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!

 

 

Trying to hit the Re-set Button

I haven’t been blogging. I haven’t been logging my activity at Fitocracy. I’ve been neck-deep in a feeling of failure, when it comes to running. It’s not that I’ve stopped running. It’s just that I haven’t been running often enough or far enough. I realize that it’s silly to feel like I failed at running, but I wasn’t coming anywhere near my goals for my weekly mileage totals or my long run distance.

It all started with training for the Sentinel Hill Climb. I didn’t find out about the race far enough in advance to really train well for it, and the race was a bit advanced for me. I only actually managed to run the entire race course once before the race. So while I knew I could do it, I wasn’t really trained up for it. I did run up the M trail (the first part of the race course) quite a few times before the race, and it is really the most difficult part (at least on the route I took), so at least I did that.

The thing is, during the period of training I developed quite a large knot in the front of my right thigh. It took me a while to even realize what was going on, and I didn’t notice it until after it had started to throw off my gait quite a bit. I’ve had some very weird hip soreness, as well as strange soreness in my ankles. Once I realized what was going on, I started using my foam roller once or twice per day.  It took over a week after the race to finally get the knot to release, and now the soreness in my hips and ankles is nearly gone. Things are getting back to normal.

I’m also having an issue with feeling really busy. I’m a hermit-type. I need a lot of down time. I had been thinking that once the summer was over, things would calm down again and I’d have more time, but that hasn’t happened. If anything, I’ve been more busy the last couple of months. So, mentally, that’s been interfering with my motivation to run and to really do much of anything.

I want to hit the running re-set button.  It’s time to start training for the Snow Joke Half Marathon. I’m going to work on getting back into my best habits of running at least three times per week and trying to get in a total of at least 20 miles for the week. That will be easier some weeks than others, of course. But those are my goals.

I also have a short race coming up on Thursday morning. The Turkey Day 8K will be a great way to start celebrating Thanksgiving Day with my running buddies and my running community, for whom I am especially thankful.

I imagine it’s not uncommon for folks to feel like they’re failing at their running, and to need to hit the re-set button. How have you done it?  Sign up for a new race to get motivated? Make up a formal training plan with some new goals? What else?

That’s it for now. I’m still here and I’m still running. I’ve just been going through a rough patch is all.

Happy running!

Some Weeks are Tougher than Others…

And sometimes those weeks drag on. I have been running, but not as often or as far as I would like. And I didn’t realize I hadn’t blogged in so long.

I’ve been training for a short, but challenging race that takes place tomorrow, but I haven’t even done as much of that as I would like. It’s going to be hard. I know I can do it, though. I’ll just be slow.

I’ve done most of my attempts at running up the hill at intervals of 15 seconds run & 30 seconds walk. It’s hard but doable. A couple of weeks ago, I tried 20 seconds run and that turned out to be too much. It strained my knees and I had to take a break. I really wanted to be able to work myself up to even splits but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I like even splits because that way if I need an extra walk break I don’t have to mess with my timer. I suppose I could just program my timer for 15 and 15 and always walk for two. Not sure why I didn’t think of that until just now, but I think it might work out perfectly.

I’ve also had some trouble finding folks who want to run as far as I do on the weekend, at least at something in the neighborhood of my pace. I still prefer running with others, particularly for longer runs. And this week, because of the race tomorrow, my long run will hopefully be Tuesday.  I have the day off to vote so I plan to run to my polling place, vote and then take a nice tour of the neighborhood over by my poling place. It’s a pretty area. The exact distance I choose will depend on how I feel after running up that hill tomorrow, but I hope to do at least 10 miles.

This last weekend we had our first meeting for the upcoming Galloway Marathon Training Class. I am hoping to be a pace group leader, so I went to the meeting and found myself getting very excited about getting back into marathon training mode. I had such a great experience last year and I hope I can help someone else have that same great experience this year.

I still have a few more ideas for Tips for New Runners posts, so I will try to get those up soon and post more regularly again. Happy Running!

 

Tips for New Runners – Chafing and Blisters

Chafing and blisters, the bane of many runners existence. We all have our favorite methods of preventing and treating them. Today I’ll tell you about mine as well as some that I’ve heard about from other runners.

Chafing can happen anywhere that our clothes rub against our skin as well as anywhere our skin rubs against other bits of skin. Moisture, whether from sweat or the environment can make it worse. Dehydration can also be a contributing factor, so there is yet another reason to stay hydrated.

A quick search of a site like Amazon shows a fairly large number of products devoted to preventing chafing. The basic idea is to reduce the friction where skin is rubbing or being rubbed. The only gel/cream type product I’ve used is Body Glide. It works just fine for me, though I’ve heard from some people that it gives up after a while if they get very wet. I did not have any problems on our 26.2 mile training run in the rain, so I can’t speak to that. On long runs I apply it to all the places most people would, like inner thighs and inner arms, as well as underneath my bra straps. I don’t think I experienced bra strap chafing until we got up to 20 or more miles, but it was very uncomfortable when I did.

Little Sister Sole, on the other hand, swears by a product called Slider, and I can tell you that it at least smells better than Body Glide does. Little Sister Sole has very sensitive skin, so if you have used Body Glide and found it irritating, Slider might be a good solution for you. Other folks use plain old Vaseline Petroleum Jelly. I haven’t tried that because I find that overly slick sensation rather repulsive, especially on my feet.

Speaking of which, some folks use Vaseline Petroleum Jelly (or any petroleum jelly, I imagine) on their feet to prevent blisters, especially between the toes. I could not personally tolerate the way that would feel (hey, we all have our issues!), but if it works for you, I say go for it.

My primary defense against blisters on my feet is my socks, which got their very own blog post here. But what about blisters between the toes? Some folks swear by the Injinji toe socks. I have one pair and I find that they fit my toes well, but not the rest of the foot, so I don’t run in them. I use tape on my toes, but please be aware that if you use this method you need to be very careful. The type of tape I use is very stretchy and I do NOT pull it tight on my toes. My toes swell a lot during a long run and I don’t need the circulation getting cut off by my blister prevention method. I apply the tape around both of the toes that rub together, careful to wrap it all the way around so that it doesn’t come loose during my run and end up causing a blister. And I’ve never had any trouble with the tape rubbing against the adjacent toes and causing trouble, in case you’re wondering.

The first time I ever used the Elastikon tape was on the bottom of my foot, before I got the good socks. On our twelve mile run, we weren’t very far along before I started to feel a hot-spot on the bottom of my right foot. Fortunately for me, one of the other runners had brought along Elastikon tape. She helped me stretch the tape out before applying it to cover the hot-spot, and within a mile or two I couldn’t feel it anymore.

I have also used the tape (applied loosely, again) to prevent nipple chafe. A friend of mine, upon hearing that I was training for a marathon, advised me very emphatically, to tape my nipples on long runs and I took that advice very seriously so I’ve never had any trouble. After the Missoula Marathon I got to witness the affects of nipple chafe, because a friend of mine had stripes of blood down the front of his shirt. I am really glad I’ve never experienced that! I bet you want to avoid it, too!

If you decide to carry tape, like I do, you might want to carry a small pair of scissors. I just bring my Leatherman Micra along, since it folds up and won’t poke a hole in the pocket of my nutrition belt. And hey, I can cut tape, measure something small or fix a loose screw. I’m prepared for anything.

Well fitting clothes (not too tight and not too loose) that breathe well and wick moisture are another preventive measure. I have one running shirt that I really like, but I’m afraid to wear it on long runs because the arms are loose and floppy and I worry that it will chafe.

What other chafe and blister prevention tips do you have, dear readers? I’d love to hear them.

Happy running!

 

Blogs I Read

I know there are a ton of running blogs out there, but I thought I’d tell you about a few of those that I read and enjoy.

The Accidental Athlete is a grad student who runs and writes about her training.  She started running for many of the same reasons the rest of us do and found herself going farther than she ever imagined she would. I really relate to that and love reading about the things she’s learning and achieving as she goes.

Running Sunflower is a great writer and inspiring runner. She runs a lot of races, including marathons and always makes it sound like fun.

SisterSoleBlog is unique in two ways. First, it’s about BigSisterSole and LittleSisterSole who live in different states but encourage each other, train together (sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively) and have adventures.  Second, LittleSisterSole is one of my pace group buddies from my Galloway marathon class. She’s super fun to run with, especially if you’re feeling low. She can cheer you up and take your mind off whatever is bugging you like nobody’s business.

The T-Rex Runner is a favorite blog of many runners I know. She’s a Marathon Maniac who travels all over, runs marathons and writes some of the BEST race reports I’ve read. She’s snarky and funny, which I really enjoy, but you can always tell she loves running, even when she’s having a tough time. Check out her recent posts about running two marathons in two days.

Slow is the New Fast is a recent addition to my blog reader, but it’s an idea that’s close to my heart. She has a great attitude and clearly loves what she’s doing. Right now she’s training for the Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World. She’ll be running a half marathon on Saturday and then a full on Sunday. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

Finally, the last blog in my list for today is Ultrun’s Blog. When Ultrun followed me I went to check out his blog and I will admit I felt absolutely unworthy. In the notification I got about being followed, wordpress included the suggestion that I check out his (then) recent post about the Ring of Fire – 3 Day, 131 Mile race. It’s a rather long post but absolutely worth reading. As with some of the others in my list, Ultrun’s love of running comes through in his words even when he’s writing about a race where he had a rough time. To be honest, reading about the Ring of Fire made me realize that if I want to, I can run a heck of a lot farther than a marathon. I just have to find the right races for me, and then train for them and I can do anything.

I hope you’ll find some of these blogs interesting. They’re not the only running blogs I read, but if I tried to include all of them I’d never get this post finished. I’ll have to do another roundup sometime soon.

Happy running!

New Shoes, A New Goal and a Difficult Run

My new Asics!

Good news everyone!  I bought new shoes. You can see them in the header, along with my other two pair, and here is an even better look at them. Aren’t they… um… Well, I’m sure plenty of people think they’re pretty. For my friends who are currently looking at them with confusion, yes I realize they are pink. Pink really isn’t my color, generally. I bristle at the “pink for girls” thing, but this blog isn’t about politics. It’s about running, so I won’t really go into the whole pink issue other than to say that there are more important things to consider when picking out running shoes. Also, some time ago a gentleman on Fitocracy mentioned disliking the color of his new shoes and other Fitocrats advised him that the best thing to do when you think your shoes are ugly is to go out and run in them and get them dirty! So that is what I will do.

These new Asics are my first road shoes. My two previous pair were somewhere between a trail shoe and a road shoe. Hybrid, if you will. I initially made the choice to go with those shoes because I was used to walking in trail shoes and found them comfortable. When I bought the Mizunos, I was looking for a shoe that was as similar to those Asics as possible, because I meant to be switching between them during my marathon training and didn’t want shoes that were too different. Now that I have some time before any big races, I feel that it’s time to try out a road shoe. The other problem I’m having is that the Mizunos aren’t quite right for me. I’m told that on paper they’re a nearly identical shoe to those first Asics, but there is something about them that isn’t working out for me. I can wear them on a short run or two each week, but any more than that and my calves start to get really tight. I honestly don’t understand how or why that is happening, but last weekend I switched back into the old Asics just to see if it would make a difference and it did. So when I saw a post on Facebook that Runner’s Edge was having a “garage sale” I knew I had to go down and try to find a new shoe. I even followed my own advice, and brought both of my other pair with me and asked for help picking out a new pair. Now, to be clear, I am in NO way suggesting that Mizunos aren’t a great shoe. That particular pair just isn’t right for me, at least not for heavy use and longer runs.

That said, I still think that the Mizunos will be the right shoe for my next race. I’ve registered for the Sentinel Hill Climb race on November 4th. It’s a short race, but still very challenging. A friend sent me the information after we chatted about how difficult it can be to get motivated to run hills. Since I plan to do the Pengelly Double Dip next year, I need to start doing a lot of hill work. The Sentinel Hill Climb is going to motivate me to get started. Being someone who accepts her slowness, I seek a different sort of challenge. I don’t need to run fast. I don’t even need to win my age group. I race to challenge myself, to stay motivated and to have fun. So for me, since I don’t really plan to get much faster, my challenges lay in running farther and in running more difficult races with lots of elevation gain.

Finally, I will say that I had a rough run yesterday. I slept in, so I missed the breakfast run and went out on my own later in the morning. I was determined to do a 13 mile run, so I plotted a course, created a playlist that was part music and part podcast and off I went. I started out slow and easy but I just couldn’t find my groove. Being alone, I think I spent a lot more time paying too much attention to myself and over-thinking things. I just was not feeling it and could not seem to pick up the pace. At about 12.3 miles I did get a boost, however, as that was when Eye of the Tiger came on my iPod. Maybe it’s a generational thing, but I don’t know too many people who aren’t pumped up by that song. I’m thinking I should download the Rocky Theme and put it toward the beginning of my playlist, with Eye of the Tiger toward the end, so that I can get pumped up by both of them.

There are more “Tips for New Runners” posts coming. I’ve just been very busy this last week or two. There’s also a blog-roundup post coming about other running blogs that I like. So keep checking back or subscribe to my rss feed and I’ll keep telling you about my experiences. Happy running!

Tips for New Runners – Nutrition Before & During the Long Run

When you start training for a long distance run, start testing out the foods you want to eat before and during the race early on.  Long runs can make our guts a lot more sensitive than they normally are, so the last thing you want to do is eat strange foods or drink strange drinks on race day. That could be a one-way ticket to a miserable time in the porta-potty or really embarrassing streaks down your legs. You may also choose to eat a very low fiber diet the day before your long run, for the same reason. I found that to be a very effective strategy while I trained for the marathon. Also, due to the laxative effects, stay away from coffee the morning of a long run. If you need the caffeine, green or black tea should help wake you up without causing you any intestinal troubles.

Jeff Galloway has some involved recommendations for how & what to eat the day before the run. I’ll admit that I didn’t really follow his recommendations before the marathon, or the marathon-length training run, but they were in the back of my mind and did moderate my eating a bit.

If at all possible, find out what sports drinks and gels will be provided during your goal race and try them out on your long training runs. That way, you’ll know how they’ll affect you on race day and whether or not you can consume them. I was not able to test out the sports drink provided by the Missoula Marathon, so I did not consume any of it. And the gels were not labeled as gluten free, which is an issue for me, so I just carried my own.

Some runners get hungry during long runs. I don’t. This may be due to what I eat for my breakfast (see below), or it just may be how I work. On runs of 15 miles or more, I do take nutrition with me. As mentioned before, I use the Honey Stinger Gels, mixed into my water, and the Stinger Gummies. Both are gluten free and they got me through my marathon training and the race quite well. And to be fair, on my long Saturday runs of around 13 miles, I do stop to have a snack and coffee around mile 11 when my group run is over but before I run home, so it’s fair to say that I use some sort of nutrition on runs over 10 miles, even if it’s just a quarter of a banana and cup of coffee. Check out your local running and athletic stores for other ideas, as well. They may have quite a selection of things for you to try, both in solid and gel form.

If you get hungry during your runs or if you’re going to be running really long runs you may need something that is more like actual food. Some folks take pretzels or nuts along, and I’ve even heard of people carrying sandwiches. It really just depends on how sensitive your guts will get, and what your needs are. Experimenting during training is the way to figure out what will best get you through the race.

So, if you’re wondering what I eat before long runs, let me tell you. I’m a gluten free eater due to some digestive troubles and oatmeal causes me troubles too. So finding something to eat before my long runs was a bit of a challenge at first. Eventually I settled on socca with peanut butter & honey on it and a couple eggs. There are some carbs in there, to get me going, and a fair amount of protein, fat and fiber as well, which could be why I don’t get hungry during my long runs.

Socca is a flatbread made from chickpea flour, water and olive oil. I find that using warm (not hot) water and covering the bowl tightly can shorten the amount of time you need to rest the batter, but always let it sit at least 30 minutes. Recently I have found a recipe for chickpea flour pancakes that I really like, and may use it in place of the socca, as it is easier to make and doesn’t heat up the house as much in the summer. I will also try out these coconut flour & almond flour pancakes as pre-race fuel, because they are really delicious and the recipe yields exactly the right amount of batter for just me.

So to recap the important points:

  • The day before a long run, try out a low fiber diet.
  • The morning of a long run, stay away from coffee. Green or black tea may help.
  • Try out the food and drink you plan to eat on race day, during your long training runs.
  • If at all possible, try out the gels and sports drinks that will be offered during the race,  on your long training runs.

Finding the right nutrition for you can be tricky, but it can sure save you a lot of discomfort and trouble on race day.

Happy running!