Running Inside or Out

I really wish that Mother Nature would pick a season and stick with it for longer than 24 hours.  This week we have had 70 degree temperatures, 20 degree temperatures, rain, thunder, sleet and the threat of snow. It was a wacky, weather week that lead to an emotional roller-coaster week, that had me absolutely exhausted by Friday. Couple the insane weather with the hours and hours of overtime that I put in this week, helped to make it an almost non-existent week of running.

At first glance, today dawned a lovely, cloudless day. It appeared to be the perfect outside running weather, until you stepped outside that is. The beautiful blue almost had me believing that the temperature would be as warm as the sky was high, but one had to just stand outside for two minutes when the wind blew, to remember that it was only a few days into spring and the weather was, in fact, quite cold – 23 degrees.

Today, however, was a must day for getting at least 30 minutes in, since I had pretty much ignored my training plan for the past week. So today’s decision was not whether or not to go for a run, but whether to run outside in the frigid temps or run in the warmth of a treadmill in an empty building. Sure, I could pay to go to the gym, but why pay when there was a free employee gym just a few blocks away?  Sure it was in the basement of an empty government building, but sometimes free is a major consideration.  Needless to say despite my pledge to get acclimated to running in the cold, I opted for the warmth of the empty employee gym.  Besides, there was a Walking Dead marathon on and I could watch it while whittling away the miles (O.K. more just like two miles, but hey “some” is always better than none).

So what did you do today? Outside or in?

Jeff Galloway Tip Day

Hey fellow runners…as promised here are the latest tips shared by the training expert Jeff Galloway! Today’s tips are all about running injury free. The amazing thing about runners, however, is our habit of trying to run through the pain…Well, here is what Jeff Galloway says….

Most injuries experienced by runners are due to 1) pacing long runs too fast, 2) increasing the weekly mileage too quickly, 3)lengthening stride and 4) stretching.

The principle in staying injury free is to balance gentle stress with the right recovery periods-allowing for rebuilding. (for more information, see my book RUNNING INJURIES).

Finding the right Run Walk Run strategy from the beginning of a run has been the best way I’ve found to stay injury free, come back from an injury and in some cases, continue to run while the injury heals. (See my book RUN WALK RUN)—-  (I own this book, it’s a great read)

•Are you concerned that running will damage joints, and other body parts ? I was told this regularly, from my first week of running over 50 years ago but the research shows the opposite result: Runners have healthier joints, etc. than non-runners as the decades go by.

•While researching for my book RUNNING UNTIL YOU’RE 100, I reviewed dozens of studies and could not find one showing that running harms legs, feet, joints, etc. (I have this book too, obviously my Jeff Galloway book collection is extensive.  I bought this book when I was feeling…well about 100)

•It may surprise you to know that many studies show that runners have fewer orthopedic issues compared with non-runners as the years go by.

•A respected and large population study out of Stanford following thousands of runners over 50 who had run for more than 20 years concluded that runners had less than 25% of orthopedic issues compared with non-runners of the same age.

As long as you stay below the threshold of irritation you can often continue to run while the injury heals.

Training Day – Running Hills

Almost sounds professional doesn’t it? Of course, every runner needs to (or should) do hill work. If you know me, however, you know that I try to avoid hills like the proverbial plague. I haven’t quite perfected the ability to run up one without huffing and puffing like the big engine that couldn’t. I realize, however, that in order to be successful, at some point I have to tackle my fear of “the hill”.

It actually didn’t go too bad.  Today was supposed to be a 25-30 minute walk-run (of course I mean run-walk), so I thought I would combine it with a hill or two.  The pace was 1 minute run, 30 second walk.   It was 65 degrees at 6:00, so it was the perfect day to go outside and give it a whirl.  I must say it wasn’t bad; even with the hill, my Nike app made the mistake of telling me it was a 12:49 minute mile run which, for me, was pretty awesome.  But let’s talk about that hill.  I think my biggest problem is forgetting to breathe, I guess the first step is realizing that I actually do hold my breath. If I could offer one tip to a new runner, don’t do that.  I guess I’m lucky I didn’t pass out! Note to self, be conscious of form AND breathing!

I’m not terribly worried, I know with a little practice, I will get over my fear of running races with hills, but for now the tightness in the back of my legs feels kind of good. It reminds me that I tackled a hill today.

Half Marathon Training Day 4

Outside

Today was half-marathon training Day 4. What a mouth-full.  Oh…the temptation was strong. I was inventing all sorts of excuses (I know, here we go again), to not hit the road (or go to the gym). I wasn’t going to totally ignore the training plan; I could cross train or something that would exert the same energy.  The question is, if you’re going to exert the same amount of energy, why not do what you’re supposed to be doing?  As I stared at the training schedule, I noticed that it was supposed to be an “easy walk day”.  Not an easy run day, but an easy WALK day. WHAT? A “walk day” on a half-marathon training plan? Hey, I could do this. I could do an easy walk with my eyes closed; besides it would give me the opportunity to try out my new sneakers. They weren’t running sneakers, but I wasn’t supposed to be running….right?

I drove to the baseball fields behind the government building thinking it was as good a place as any, plenty of shortcuts to head back to the car in the event of an emergency. What happened? For the first time in days, the sun was shining (even at 5:00 p.m.), there were still hours of daylight left. I took a deep breath and kicked it into gear.  So many thoughts were running through my mind; puzzles to solve, plans to make. Before I knew it, a 30 minute “easy” walk had turned into 3.25 miles of an invigorating run-walk (in true Jeff Galloway style).  It’s true, sometimes it’s hard to get out there, but once you do, the time and miles just melt away.

An easy walk? Try 3.25 miles.  #dropthemic

What A Difference A Year Makes

Disney Princess

2014 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

Me driving down to Florida, at the expo and up to race day: “I’m not ready, I haven’t trained enough. I’m not a runner. What am I doing here?”

Me at the starting line when the gun went off: “What? Already? The world is closing in on me.  I can’t breathe. What am I doing here? I should quit.”

Me at mile 3.1. “I should quit now…any second now. I can’t go another mile.”

Me at mile 4: “Only mile 4? How long IS this race?”

Me at entering the Magic Kingdom: “Look down. Don’t look at all these people on the side of the road. I’m not gonna make it. Can they tell I’m miserable? Why am I wearing this hat? It’s smothering me.”

Me at mile 8: “Oh now, the leg cramps are starting again. Just great…”

Me at mile 10: “Just give up.”

Me entering Epcot and a mile from the finish line: “Don’t look at the people, this was horrible.” Oh my legs.” To my sister Margaret, “Save yourself!”

Me seeing the finish line: “Oh thank you! Please let me just get across.”

Me crossing the finish line: “Never again, nope, no way.”

Me for a week after the race: Practically in tears from muscle soreness and raw from chaffing.

Me – no running for almost five months after the race.

2015 Disney Princess Marathon Weekend

Me at the starting line: “I’m just one corral ahead of the balloon ladies. I better get to the front of the corral.”

Me at the starting gun: “Yeah, I’m finally going to get to toss my throw away shirt this year. Cool.”

Me at mile 3.1: “Oh WOW, that was quick. , just like running a 5K. This is kind of fun.”

Me at the hill before entering Magic Kingdom: “Don’t lean too much. Easy does it. Think about your form.”

Me entering Magic Kingdom: Waving at strangers, waving at me. “This is so cool. Look at that!”

Me at mile 8: “No cramps this time, I’m gonna do this.”

Me eyeing the ramp of pain: “I’ve got my salt, my sugar, my Powerade, my legs are taped. Get ready, I’ve got this.”

Me going up the ramp: I finally turn around at mile 10 and see the balloon ladies are right behind me. “I better speed this up.”

Me entering Epcot: “Wow, look at all the people cheering us on.”

Me knowing the finish line is less than a mile: “Time to finish like a champ.”

Me crossing the finish line: “I know what I need to do for next year, bring it on.”

Me after the race: Very little soreness, no raw skin and enjoying the parks.

Me: Training started less then two weeks after finishing, Preparing for next year’s half-marathon.

What a difference a year makes….

Built in Running Excuses

Jayden snow dayToday is a bitter sweet day. My daughter and my three-year old grandson are moving away tomorrow.  As sad as I am, in reality it isn’t very far – less than two hours on the highway. It’s a trip we’ve made hundreds of times and in today’s world, I guess it could be considered practically right around the corner. She has a new job and is well on her way to becoming the person she wants to be.  Sure, the mom in me wishes that things never had to change, that my kids would always be with me, but I know there comes a time when they have to stretch their wings and make their way into the world.

So what does that have to do with my running? For three years I have (quite cheerfully) used my grandma responsibilities as excuses to not go running. Plans to run after work? Sure, but I have to go home and make dinner. Plans to run on the weekends? I could, but he cries when I leave the house so I probably shouldn’t go. Always an excuse, happy ones as I love being a grandma, but the bottom line is that they were excuses.  Well those excuses are now ending. I supposed it’s time. I do have one child left at home, but he is pretty self-sufficient when he wants to be at the age of 18, so rushing home to cook dinner or play really isn’t in the cards any more.

Sometimes it’s hard when those built-in excuses go away, but I face the future knowing that it’s a sign for me to get up off my duff and get serious. After all, didn’t I make a goal of a minimum of 500 miles for the year (a lightweight goal at less than 10 miles a week); or a goal to run another half-marathon by fall; or the goal to get my time under 3:30 for the half? Well, now is the time. I will miss seeing my grandson’s smiling face every time I walk in the door or the conversations with my daughter, but now is the time. No more built-in excuses.

KT Tape and Running

KT TAPE

If you’re just joining me on my journey, you probably missed the story of the excruciating muscle cramps I experienced in last year’s Disney Princess Half-Marathon.  During the Disney Princess Half-Marathon 2014, I visited the KT tape booth. KT Tape is short for Kinesiology Tape used for common sports injuries.  They offered a complimentary taping so I had them tape my foot for plantar fasciitis (long time sufferer, but a story for another time). That year, I also bought a lovely pink roll of KT tape that pretty much sat on my dresser for 12 months. My foot was fine during the race, but my legs were devastated (or were my legs sore and I devastated?)  To make a long story short, I wanted to cry starting at mile 8. I did, however, manage to finish the race.

Fast forward to Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend 2015…about two months before the half, I started to feel those familiar muscle cramp surges in my legs – not quite a full blown cramp, but it felt as if there was the possibility that it might cramp with the slightest movement. Was it real or imaginary? I knew it was probably all in my head, but hey with only one half-marathon under my belt, experience tends to speak for itself. I brought my roll to Florida with me, but also stopped at the KT tape booth this year for another complimentary taping. That’s when I thought, “hey, I’m reasonably smart, I should be able to do this myself.”

Armed with my Smartphone and my tablet, I watched as many KT Tape videos on YouTube as possible.  I was determined not to have a repeat of last year, even if it meant making a KT Tape leg cast. I wouldn’t exactly call myself a hypochondriac and no where near a KT Tape application expert, but I managed to tape my other calf, the top of my foot (I had a hairline fracture shortly after the last half when I dropped a dresser on it…again a story for another time), my small toe (did you know the KT tape video for a jammed finger works well here?), my knee from that old athletic injury…by the time I finished, I was practically covered from knee to toe in pretty pink tape.

Success!  Laugh at me if you will, but it worked. I didn’t experience a single cramp or pain in any of those areas. In fact, the ONLY place that did hurt was the one place I didn’t tape… my ankle! Go figure… As always, it’s important for me to learn a lesson. Lesson number one, don’t engage in two Disney park heavy walking days before a half marathon. We managed to cover almost 13 miles a day just walking. Lesson number two, YouTube is your friend. Lesson number three, don’t be afraid to experiment – do what you need to do in order to be successful.