…And the winner is…

…not me!

I recently applied to be an ambassador for the 2013 Wipro Marathon. I don’t think I really wanted it, but I wanted to want it. I want to give back to the running community (once I can run again!), and this seemed like a great local outlet for it. It also seemed like a good way to meet other runners. However, let’s face it…I’m a busy person. I don’t really have time for extra extra-curriculars (but I like to think I do).

Maybe instead, I’ll volunteer for events (I can be a pretty good water girl!) and join a running club. And…next year, when I get a grip on my other activities, I’ll reapply.

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Black toenails

Black toenails…and swollen feet…OH MY! I thought I was safe, buying the best possible shoes for the job, making sure they were a half size bigger than I would normally purchase, and even getting Podiatrist advice. Alas…no one can be fully safe.

My left foot feels like it has grown outward next to where the shoelaces were tied, and it presses painfully against my shoe when I run (granted, I’ve only run short distances since the race — and I don’t really know if this is real pain or just readjusting to the exercise).

My right second toenail is getting darker as the blister underneath grows bigger. I probably should have clipped my toenails ahead of time. In the meantime, I’m going to head to a running store this weekend to get new shoes — and I’m hoping it helps!

For more info on this topic, check out this Runners World article.

Recovery Week

On Monday, I became obsessed with finding the next big run. A few people were telling me I should just do another half in the fall. After all, I already had the training foundation for it, and anything I’d do until then would be maintenance. So, I found a couple of promising races:

The Big Sur Half will likely sell out soon, but it’s in the lead because it’s local enough and promises beautiful scenery. The Des Moines Marathon has a lot going for it (friends/family time, and being able to be there to support a friend who is running again for the first time since pregnancy), but it would mean I’d probably have to skip Thanksgiving in Iowa — and I’d have to take time off work for it.

Shortly after planning the runs, I downloaded a new, “moderate,” running schedule that would involve 2 miles on Tuesday, 5 miles on Thursday, and 8 miles on Sunday. All of that was thrown out of the window when I found myself sleeping in on Tuesday morning…and Thursday. This week, my training mostly consisted of climbing and practicing yoga. It was just what my body demanded, and I’m glad I did it. On Saturday, I went on a short, slow run with my roommate, and that went OK, but it was hard to motivate myself to do it. I feel like my strategy should really be to start small and increase up again. Maybe start by going for time, not distance (i.e., 30 mins of steady running one day, then 45, then 60 and so on).

I’m probably going to throw out any daunting training “plans” for the next week or so and see where that takes me. Then, maybe sign up for something in the fall. Maybe. I’m not going to promise anything, and I’m not going to be too disappointed if it doesn’t work out. There will be plenty of half marathon opportunities in 2013, after all.

Running Spam

A friend of mine (also a runner) recently posted an Onion article on her FB feed, focusing on how runners spam their friends with minute details about their running.

From the article:

“Mile split times, cramping, hydration levels, chafing—you’re about to hear all of that. Plus, I’ll be dwelling on one point around mile 17 when I considered stopping but then decided to keep going because I’d already come so far. There’s a lot to cover, so I want to be upfront and apologize right off the bat.”

Oh boy, am I guilty for that! I guess that’s why I have a blog, so those who don’t mind the spam can read it (and those who hate it can ignore it).

I like one of her friends’ comments: “at our age it’s a tough choice between marathons and babies, but marathons are the underdog so let it roll.” Ok, I don’t feel that bad after all…

In good form

Just over a year ago, I met M, who, as I mentioned before, was in the process of getting her Pilates certification. Now she’s off to a higher purpose: thru-hiking the Pacific Coast Trail with her boyfriend.

During my brief time as her client, we covered a very full range of Pilates topics, but the one that stuck with me the most is form when doing non-Pilates activities — like running, cycling, climbing and cello-ing (my four main hobbies). When running, she had me pull down my shoulders (trying to “touch” the shoulder blades together) and relax my arms, to hold them in front of me like I’m carrying a tray. When combined with general good posture, this is surprisingly effective at making running easier.

*Powered by PixtonImages copyright 2012 Pixton.

When cycling, she had me focus on my core and triceps to get the pressure out of my shoulders. Though I really enjoyed having someone to cycle with, I admit that I didn’t always want to hear her commentary while I was cycling (and probably said as much). “Triceps, Sarah!” I can still hear her now. But I think it was effective, and that’s probably why people train with trainers — they can get into your subconscious more than you can do on your own, and make you a better runner/cycler/climber/cello player.

Today started out a little rough — it’s always hard to jump back into running again after a long run on Sunday. The second I remembered to focus on form, however, I relaxed into my pace and finished the two miles with ease, and well under 30 mins. Thanks, M! See you on the trail in a couple of weeks.

Podiatry, the dentistry for feet.

There is nothing sexy about going to the podiatrist. When you arrive, they don’t sit you down in a massage chair and let your feet soak in rose petals and cucumber water. Instead, the harsh fluorescent lights glare down on you as your feet caress the plastic covered lining in the epsom soak. You hear trashy pop music playing in the office next door and you smell smoke from someone nearby, most likely in that office next door or on the street. There’s, in fact, no massage at all. You feel a little like your feet are being violated, much like you feel your teeth are being violated at the dentist’s –but that it’s all OK because someone has been trained in a medical fashion to handle them. And actually, I prefer this experience over a pedicure any day.

Here’s why:

  • Knowledge – my podiatrist not only told me I didn’t have an ingrown toenail (thank goodness!), but she also told me what it was (basically, a fancy callus), and how to deal with it. She didn’t say, “Never ever go climbing or running again!” In fact, she told me how to minimize activity-related calluses. I walked away with a callus softening cream for when they return, and instructions to purchase a ped egg.
  • Shaving – “shaving” is what she did with my calluses. It turns out this is not ticklish at all. With pedicures, there’s “exfoliating.” I do think some pedicurists I’ve had in the past have gotten a simple pleasure out of my pain-inducing giggles, and I therefore dread the “exfoliating” process very much.
  • Simple solutions – so, apparently, my feet have very high arches, which is mostly good in podiatric circles, but it also means that I put more stress on the front of my feet. With increased mileage, it means pain; so, she set me up with a pair of these orthotic supports to redistribute the pressure.

Sure, they’re not fancy orthotics (the kind that are custom for your feet), but they do feel firmer than the insoles in my running shoes. I tried running with these yesterday, and, though it was probably too long of a run to try something different (I felt a little more stress in my calf area than usual), my heels did feel a little more supported than usual, and the stress on the front of my feet felt less. Could be power of suggestion, but it could also be that something is working. Yay podiatry!

Lactic Acid…the “Why”

Yesterday evening, my friend, Alison, called me with a question, “Should I go on the 2 mile run today?” Alison has been training with me for this half marathon, and we’re on the same plan. Of course, I said “yes,” and here is how that conversation went:

Me: “You need to build up the number of times you run per week. As much as it’s going to hurt today, your run will feel better on Sunday, and your runs in general will improve. I don’t know how, but it works.”

Alison: “But can’t I just do 2 miles on Saturday?”

“No! You need that day for recovery.”

“Ok. Thanks for the pep talk!”

I’m not sure if she was convinced and/or ran last night. When we hung up, my roommate piped in: it was all about getting your body used to building up lactic acid. Found a few good articles on the topic, and now I actually feel better about yesterday’s sluggish 2 miler…and I also feel more convinced about the need for fuel, water, massage and stretching during training (as if I needed a reason!):

Laundry

I seem to be doing a lot of laundry these days. So much so that I go through perfectly-sized standalone hampers like they’re going out of style, and I spend hours at places like the Container Store, thinking about the pluses of a $30-$60 laundry hamper and wondering if it would last me more than 3 weeks like my $12 version.

Side note: does anyone have a good recommendation? I need something sturdy and small/flexible enough to fit in my closet and my small laundry cart, but light enough to be able to lift, with a good strap for carrying two blocks.

I have a lot of workout clothing, but not enough to last me more than seven days (unless I start using the really old stuff, or I do what my college roommate did — just wear the same thing all week and wash once). All of my workout clothing has this great, sweat-wicking quality to it. In other words, sweat doesn’t stick to it like cotton, and the fabric doesn’t stick to you, allowing for full movement without too many fabric-related woes*. This sweat wicking fabric needs to be hang-dried, however, both before and after doing laundry (before, to avoid mildew or massive hamper smelliness; after, to avoid dryer-induced shrinkage). Therefore, the only time something is not hanging in my room is when I have guests over.

I don’t really know what to do about this situation. I could:

a.) get a washer and dryer of my own, and a room to house them in

b.) hang my clothes in the living room

c.) tough it out and just be happy I live in a place where there is more than a smidgen of room for hanging clothing

Since I really like my apartment and my roommate would not appreciate having clothing hanging in the living room, I’m going to stick with c. but occasionally daydream about a. Some people want to purchase houses for the freedom. Others for the space. Me — I would really love a washer/dryer room, spacious walk-in closets and, since we’re daydreaming, a meditation room, a large kitchen with an island and a surround-sound speaker system.

*Fabric-related woes include, but are not limited to: chaffing, itching, wedgies, clinging, smelling and bunching.

Running when you really don’t feel like it (training day 11)

Run Time: 42:58
Stopped Time: 0:00
Distance: 3.03 miles
Average: 14:11 /mile
Fastest Pace: 7:58 /mile
Ascent: 161 feet
Descent: 130 feet

I admit, I did not want to leave the comfort of my bed this morning. Last night, I struggled with sleeping through the night and I was still recovering from stubborn trapezius muscles this morning. But, I pulled myself out, took some pain killers for the headache I had, and started coffee while I placed a warming pad on my shoulders. 20 minutes later, I left the house, telling myself about all the positives of my run today (variety, soft surface, being in the park) — and, like clockwork, about a mile in, I was a happy runner.

I doubt there really is a trick to conquer the urge not to run, but it’s probably like most things you don’t want to do: half the battle is just showing up, and the rest just follows.

The Music Debate

To run with music, or without…it’s a hot debate for some runners. Check out this Runner’s World article to see what I mean.

Some say you should run without music. You can, and should, pay attention to your foot strike (personally, I’m guilty of a poor running foot strike, so this resonates with me). Music can keep you from doing this. If you run without music, you will also pay more attention to your surroundings.

Before training for this half marathon, I would always take the side of music. Music is such an essential part of my life, and running is no exception. I also really don’t like that the race folks tell you not to listen to music, so that makes me want to.

Lately, however, I’ve noticed that, when I run without music, I do pay attention to where my foot is striking, and how heavy I place it on the ground. I pay attention to my breathing, posture, and I hold a conversation (it usually helps that I’ve been running more with people than not). On one of my runs last week, when it was raining in Golden Gate Park, I even noticed the sounds of nature, a rare kind of treat for my urban life.

I’m not going to throw away my iPod, and I will definitely be sporting this thing soon (below), but I’ll probably only listen to music on my easy run days.

Source: amazon.com via Sarah on Pinterest