Posted by: jls | July 6, 2012

So I shaved my leg this morning

There have been moments in my running life that have given me pause and led me to think, “Well now you’re really done it. You’ve crossed the threshold from running enthusiast to nut job.” There was the day that I decided, for no particular reason, to run a marathon. There was the day that I ran 22 miles when I planned on running 11. There was the Run for the Fallen run that started at about 3 a.m. in the dark while the rain poured down. And the list goes on.

Today, I have reached a new milestone. As readers of this blog will recall, I have been suffering through a nasty runner’s knee since last November/December. The problem has recently taken a turn for the worse. As a result I have been wearing a little brace most of the time. Then, last weekend some of my running friends recommended KT Tape. I went out and purchased a couple of boxes. I taped my knee up for a run and quickly discovered that tape + hair + sweat = tape falling off. About a mile into my run, most of the tape was flapping from my leg. By the end of the run, the tape was gone.

So, I concluded that for the tape experiment to work, I’d have to shave away the hair from around my knee. Now one might think that shaving part of one’s leg would not be a big deal, especially for someone who shaves his head. But, one would be wrong. Afterall, my degree is in communication and not manscape design. A real trooper, I set my fears aside and hacked away. What emerged was a strangely smooth and soft leg, especially sponge-like given the swelling.

I taped the bad boy up and seven hours later, the tape REMAINS! I have to admit it looks strange, especially when considered alongisde a very hairy leg. I wonder if people will believe that my knee has cancer? I just hope that I don’t end up like Seinfeld in episode where he experimented with shaving his chest.

I’ll let you know if the tape holds for 12 miles. Happy running!

Posted by: laf | July 1, 2012

I ran, I ran, I ran!!!

Hooray!! I ran today!! It might be the first time since October 2011. Maybe the second time. All I know is it took a LOT of effort, and quite a bit of coaxing by my former running partner. She’s a “former running partner” because she moved out of state, but she was visiting this week.  Somehow I managed to miss all of her Facebook messages during the past week in which she asked me if I wanted to run. I SWEAR I didn’t ignore them. No, really, I didn’t.

After reminiscing over drinks Friday night she convinced me that it was time to start running again. (My capacity for excuses diminishes with every sip… I think she knew the perfect time to spring the invitation on me). So, I ran. And if I can still walk tomorrow, I’ll try running again on Tuesday. And maybe I’ll be able to make it  until October and run another 13.1.

Wish me luck!!

Sometimes we must accept that injuries happen. And I find myself in that situation. Despite an aggressive off-season training routine, I find myself in enough pain to stop running. First, the back story.

Two weeks ago I ran my first half marathon of the season. Although I started the day complaining about my usual right knee pain, it subsided and I finished in a more-than-respectable 1:43. This success led me to declare that I would run another marathon this season.

As fate would have it, the pain returned once again. Now I am sitting on the couch after completing a tough four miles five days ago.

I have accepted the fact that I am going to have to stop running for a little while. I have done little to no exercise, and now I am getting anxious. One thing that I’ve noticed, however, is just how easy it is to fill my running time with meaningless tasks. It has helped me to appreciate how hard it can be to make running a part of one’s routine. I am about to get back in the pool and ride my bike to keep my schedule, even if I can’t run.

So how do you keep from going stir crazy when you can’t run?

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20120522-082245.jpgOne of the best things about running is that it requires very little gear. If you have shorts and shoes, you are pretty much set. But, some runners like to have a few essentials. And, in my case, I have a few pieces of gear tht I have just for superstition’s sake.

As I drag out my running bag to get it ready for a new season, I figured I would share with you the list of items I require to get through a great season.

1. The Four Holy S’s of running — Shirts, Shoes, Shorts, and Socks — Of course. But let me be clear, I don’t think any old socks, shoes, and shirts will do. For shirts, shorts, and socks, distance runners live by one rule: NO COTTON. If I am running only a few miles, I will wear cotton, but if I run any distance that will result in real sweating (3+ miles, in my case), I will go with the fancy fiber (wicking) clothing because natural fibers will hold the sweat. Who wants to carry around all of that extra weight. As for shoes, the debate continues. What shoes are appropriate for your feet? Should you wear shoes at all? I haven’t studied this question in a scientific fashion because I purchase shoes based on superstition. Life is full of contradiction – mock religion for its lack of empiricism and buy shoes because some unseen hand compels me. Anyway, The only time in my life that I received a gait analysis, I was told that I needed to buy shoes with extra support. Three weeks later, I suffered my first major running injury. So I conclude that it must be the shoes. Since that time, I went back to my inexpensive Aasics with no arch support. Have I experienced injuries since? Yep. But surely it can’t be my lucky shoes!

2. Body Glide and Nip Guards — Disgusting but necessary. And if you plan to run a
half or full marathon, you will definitely want to apply Body Glide before getting to the start line. If you forget, there is usually a stick being passed amongst the runners. GROSS!

3. Chewing Gum — I always chew gum when I do my long runs. It keeps my mind occupied and prevents my mouth from drying out. Of course, my high school gym teacher would fall over dead if he knew that I was risking such a choking hazard — and, yes, every now and then, the gum gets sucked down the old pipe. But, it’s part of the routine now, so chew on, I shall!

4. IPod — As I’ve written in the past, I listen to podcasts instead of music when I am running. In part it is because podcasts help me to keep my pace. I run too fast when listening to music. What am I listening to these days? I will listen to Real Time with Bill Maher, This American Life, Adam Carolla (spelled correctly), This Week with Larry Miller (hope he returns soon. hello fellow LMDSers), Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast, and WTF.

5. Sports Beans and Blocks — Power on. I will usually have some just before a run, then at mile 9, and again about every 30-45 minutes depending on the day. A word of caution: Some people get sick from mixing sugars. So be careful about mixing these things with Gatorade.

6. Paper Towels — I just like to keep paper towels handy. Usually, I use them to clean off my glasses when it is raining.

Posted by: jls | May 8, 2012

Breaking your running routine

Do you ever find yourself deciding to skip your planned run because you need the extra 30 or 60 minutes in a day? If you are like most nonprofessional runners, you have almost certainly skipped a planned run. I do it all the time. The problem for me is that one day can turn into two days, which turns into three, and so on…

Once the cycle begins, it can be hard to stop. So here are some things that I do to keep up the running routine.

 

Break the Routine

Breaking your running routine can take a variety of forms. One way that I break my routine is by leaving my watch at home. Sometimes I decide to skip a run because I don’t want running to feel like work, and at times, I feel like I am serving the stopwatch. So I leave it at home. It is amazing how much more enjoyable a route can be when you are taking your time and looking at the scenery rather than at your watch. Another way that I break the routine is by changing my iPod selections. I tend to prefer listening to podcasts, so I will download new podcast genres or switch to music. I also break the routine by trying a new route. Running in a new place is always fun. If you can’t leave the neighborhood, then walk out the front door and start running and go wherever your heart desires (take a cell phone).

 

Try cross training

Only in the past few years have I come to value cross training. I’ve tried yoga, pilates, biking, and swimming. Not only does cross training help you get some exercise on a day when you give up running, but it will also make you a better runner when you do run. Intellectually, I guess I understood that the best runners are fit in a number of ways — they don’t just have strong legs and lungs. I drink too much bourbon to claim that I am fit in a variety of ways, but when I cross train, I definitely notice a difference in my running.  For instance, this offseason I have been swimming. As a result, I have noticed that my back feels better during my runs and my cardiovascular fitness has been improved, including noticeable declines in my heart rate and blood pressure.

 

Sign up for a new race

I just signed up to run the Iron Horse half marathon. The race is in early June, which is very early in my seasonal training schedule. So, I have little choice but to do my miles. In addition, the prospect of a new race and a new course with new challenges gets the adrenaline pumping.

 

Those are some of the ways that I break my routine. What do you do?

Posted by: jls | April 16, 2012

When a baby pusher pushes you, just say thanks

This offseason has been tremendous. So I still have the bum right knee, but it hasn’t slowed me down. As you may recall, I took up swimming and learned how to swim freestyle without looking like I needed the help of a lifeguard. I am trying to do the breaststroke now, but I am pretty sure that I look like what my boxer looked like when he accidentally fell into the pool.

In addition to the exercise, for the first time in my life, I managed not to gain weight in the offseason. It was not easy, but I can say that I am the same weight today as I was on race day in October…as I take another sip from the mangria.

A few weeks ago, I ran my fastest 5k ever, shaving 90 seconds off my PR (with 2 Guinness and a few scones in the tank).

Amid all of these wonderful happenings, I managed to catch some miserable illness two weeks ago. I was down and out until three days ago when I finally recovered. When I came out of the fog, I found my motivation to run had slipped away with the illness.

But, then like manna from heaven, my baby-pushing colleague laced up her shoes and hit the pavement again AND posted to the blog to boot. Sheesh! For that, I am GRATEFUL! Not only did her post remind me of the several hundred miles I trotted with my tike, but it also renewed my energy. What’s funny is that technically my virtual running partner and I have only run together twice in the past year – once at a conference and once on race day – but knowing that someone else is out there going through the same things (and pusing a little one), is inspiring to me. So I want to take this opportunity to thank my friend for the push I needed. In exchange for the inspiration, the next box of wine is on me. Summer 2012 will bring PRs for both of us and we will raise a ton of money for a deserving charity.

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Posted by: laf | April 14, 2012

Spring Training – Day One

Run away stroller

Well, almost.

In case you’re not a regular follower of my other blogs you may not already know that I am in the process of what’s known as “foster-to-adopt” and we now have a beautiful little baby boy in our care. It’s a wonderful time for us, but of course it is also extremely busy. I still want to train for the marathon, so yesterday I donned my sneakers (I even put on the ones with the orthotics in them — those haven’t seen the light of day since October 15th– yes, last year’s race day!!) and took the jogging stroller out with one babbling infant perched in the built-in infant seat.

I have to admit. I didn’t run. I didn’t even jog. I can’t even say that I walked briskly. I just walked. Me and the baby, getting the lay of the land, since I haven’t had to push a stroller in 3 years. Since I’ll have the baby with me during the week, I’ll have to do those training runs while pushing the stroller. I figure if it doesn’t kill my knees or hips, it  will only make me stronger. So stay tuned to see how this season goes, with a brand new challenge to make training all that more interesting. I’m not sure who said this first, but I regularly remind myself …. nothing worthwhile is ever easy.

Posted by: jls | February 2, 2012

K-neeing is Believing

Now that I’m on the treadmill several times a week, I have noticed some pain on the front side of my right knee. In addition, the knee will occasionally click even when I’m not running. The persistence of the low-grade to moderate pain lead me to do some searching on the Interwebs. Since I won’t go to the doctor, I’ll rely on the danger of a little knowledge to guess that the problem might be Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS). My friends will get a good laugh out of this self-diagnosis when they find out that it is prevalent in adolescent girls…it figures.

Anyway, PFPS is often the result of the patella not moving correctly when bending the knee. According to the Sports Injury Clinic, runners are among those most at risk for this form of injury, especially runners who run long distances and/or hills. Other factors that make a person more prone to PFPS include: a) tight muscles, b) weak quadriceps, and c) history of knee dislocation.

This week, Runner’s World tweeted an article about exercises to alleviate or prevent PFPS. The article was originally published in November. I wonder if the timing is not coincidental. Because November is the beginning of treadmill season for many runners, I can’t help but think that if the change of gait caused by treadmill running might have contributed to my knee pain. What do you think? Are your aches and pains different when you switch from outdoor running to treadmill running?

 

Flickr photo courtesy of hyper7pro

Posted by: laf | January 20, 2012

Just believe.

Believe !!

My co-blogger has been doing a wonderful job of training and writing. I have dragged out my holiday excuses for training-avoidance for as long as possible. The guilt is still there, eating away at me for both neglecting the blog and neglecting my running. Now to add insult to injury my co-blogger is learning to swim. That was the one last thing I had on him was swimming. Hmpf. Will I now have to get back in the pool too? I just might. There is that competitive streak in me that gets me off of the couch when nothing else can. That was the point of the half-marathon last year and it worked. I know what you’re doing, JLS. I do.

In the late fall months a friend of mine had asked why it had been so long since I did a triathlon. I really didn’t have a valid reason. I have a son now, but he’s old enough that I could manage to squeak in a workout here and there. I am busy with work, research, volunteering, housekeeping — all of the usual things that we working moms do on a daily basis, but that’s still not enough of an excuse. I could blame it on laziness, but I know from my past actions that I’m truly not a lazy person at heart. I think it ends up boiling down to not having clear cut goals. I need to work on my goals. I haven’t really thought these out since before I became a mom. I knew I wanted to be a PhD, and a mom, and those are the two things that I focused a decade of my life on. Then they both happened and ever since I’ve been sort of spinning my wheels, not really sure where I’m headed, except for the briefest of moments such as when I decided it was time to do a half-marathon. And let’s be honest – the real goal underlying the half-marathon was to start getting fit again, because I’m not immortal. Really.

So back to the original point. My co-blogger is very much like me. He is taking swimming lessons now while in his 30′s. I learned to swim when I was 35. It’s hard for many folks to believe that I started that late in life, but it’s true. Here’s how it happened.

Me: I am running an a gorgeous, sunny afternoon in the absolute best conditions, feeling great about everything life has to offer.

My brain: Wouldn’t it be cool to do a triathlon?

Me: I don’t have a bicycle.

My brain: There’s an easy remedy to that.

Me: I can’t swim.

My brain: So what? That’s what lessons are for!

Me: I’m like 35 years old. I should just be happy I can run.

My brain: Stop with the excuses already. Get to the nearest Y and sign up for swimming lessons.

Me: *sigh*

So I did.

And you can too. Just believe.

Posted by: jls | January 16, 2012

Prof in the Pool

As followers of the blog know, I do not enjoy treadmill running. Although watching the New York Giants win playoff games while working out has certainly made the treadmill more enjoyable. To fight off the laziness and loss of conditioning that comes with treadmill aversion, or TA, I signed up for swimming lessons.

My first lesson was a few days ago. What I learned is that I know nothing about swimming. A thought that is a bit humbling, but also encouraging. It is encouraging to me because my lack of knowledge means that I will have lots to learn. For this running prof, opportunities to learn are motivators.

Aside from drinking more pool water than I’d prefer, the swimming lesson was fun. It made me think about getting outside of one’s comfort zone. This is an interesting thought because many of the runners that I know are creatures of habit. When was the last time that you added something new to your training or cross-training routine?

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