Monday, August 26, 2013

Your training plan is NOT your life

     This hit home for both of us this past week.  Things have been beyond busy (obviously, because my posts have been MIA too) and the busy part of the year is creeping up on us already!  I had a rheumatologist appointment this week (which proved to be really insightful, and life changing!), the Hare has been a busy bee at work, and we had lots of errands and family visits to attend to.  Whew!  Just writing it was a mouthful!

     Things are great, essentially.  However, even when things are great, being that busy takes a toll on you after a while (I know, I know, slow down you say!)  and it is still stressful on your body.  Here is a great tool to illustrate just this point.  It's just a checklist, with a column of numbers, and after you check any that apply, you add up any you selected, and read the profile and level of stress based on your life events and current situation.  It adds up faster than you think it does!!  For instance, we scored 388-- and that stress level (good and bad) can make us more susceptible to illness and breakdown.

This is what wen needed to stop and see, just for a day.

     To make a long story short, we did not go on our long run yesterday.  Instead we re arranged our apartment, to make it feel a bit different, and cozy.  Both of us had been burning the candle at both ends, and we needed to just stop and reconnect with ourselves and what's important-- our home, and the life we are living.  The Hare mentioned our run, and I made the decision to skip it, and cross train extra today (p90x legs and back workout-- it was PLENTY of a workout thanks) instead.  Your training plan can't be so inflexible that you burn yourself out, or sacrifice things that really matter, like your health and family.

    It seems silly to have to post this, but neither of us had really sat down and thought about how much we are doing right now, so a break was refreshing, and we know that we will be just fine in the long run (no pun intended!). I posted this in hopes that everyone remembers that the path to physical health includes more than just nutrition and getting yourself moving!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The dangers of the couch-- even for runners

    Everyone knows that having a sedentary lifestyle is horribly unhealthy-- but most folk who do something like running or other exercise have long felt immune to those ill health effects.  As I was reading my latest copy of my favorite running magazine (ya'll know I have love for Runner's World) and I saw an infographic about it as well (please check that link out-- I love the format, because I love pretty data-- it makes me happy!).  I wanted to discuss this, because it is important to all of us!

   So what effects does sitting down so much have on us really?  Well, the basics are immune system weakness, back problems (weak back muscles, and strained from sitting in odd positions), a significant increase in heart disease risk and diabetes, and in women in particular it seems to cause more depression (less circulation of the hormones we need and transmitters that keep us feeling good).  Cholesterol issues abound in those of us who sit more than 4 hours a day too.

Don't let the couch monster pull you in!

    As the infographic said-- it's inevitable for most of us to sit down for our jobs (and the commute wherever we work, home, and any errands-- adding up isn't it?) but there are things you can do to move a little more during the day.  Set a timer for every hour, and get up and stretch for just a few minutes, or even walk around and hand deliver some of the things you could just email or not move for.  Try to at very least walk on your lunch break, either in the office or around someplace.

    The most obvious is to spend less time on the couch!  I know, it's hard not to listen to its  siren like calls when you come home after a long day, or even a hard run, and nothing sounds better than turning on your favorite movie and remaining still for the next 2 hours.  Try to resist-- or pause the movie for breaks (a drink or bathroom break, anything to get blood flowing again) when you can.

Try not to let this become you! (even though I think pugs are cute)

    There are of course extreme (and expensive) measures some people take, like desks designed for use while standing, or even while walking on a treadmill!  I don't think that's necessary really, if you just commit to keeping yourself moving, all the hard effort you expend running and being active and healthy will pay off more!

    I know that I am horrible about sitting more than I should-- and reading the research and studies more in depth has really made me aware of it.  I intend to take my own advice here, and stand or move each day less than I sit-- because this strong body that I am working so hard to take such good care of deserves my attention, and it deserves me taking whatever steps I need to ensure that it stays so healthy!

How much do you sit every day?  Do you have ideas to decrease how much you sit?  Can you commit to sitting less with me?  

Monday, August 19, 2013

Summer vs. Winter Running

     This cooler (comparatively) weather has me aching for autumn-- the smell of the leaves as they start to change, and the crispness in the air.  We had our long run last night, and the breeze and cooler temps (it was around 70, WONDERFUL for Mississippi in August!) were so amazing and pleasant.  I thought about what running through the winter will be like now, since we started in January this year (and got through the worst of the new running pains in the coldest part of the year).

     There are a lot of things that seem like common sense, but I wanted to address here-- running in the summer and winter are totally different ball games if you are outside year round!

    Clothing is the biggest difference-- and the most obvious. Wearing improper clothing can be easier in winter than summer (overdressing is just as bad as under dressing!)  Sometimes it's hard to figure out what to wear, but I stumbled across Runner's World's "what to wear" page.  All you have to do is plug in the temperature, your gender, and a few other bits of info and voila!  Instant suggestion of what is appropriate.

    A good rule of thumb in general that I hear/ see often is "dress for 15-20 degrees warmer".  Your body heat will keep you plenty warm!

    Speaking of overdressing, you are probably curious about why it's bad to overdress.  In summer it's simple, you dress to keep from getting too hot.  In winter, there is a fine line between "keeping warm" and "wearing too much and sweating too much".  Yep, it is actually easier to dehydrate in the winter!  Because of the cold, it's easy not to notice how much you sweat (thanks to the fancy sweat wicking stuff you have on) and you lose more than you think (not to mention cold winter winds).

You also don't want to run like this-- unless you like lying down a lot!

     Layering in winter should be in many lighter layers, rather than bulky stuff like the above image.  Maintaining your flexibility is the key to keeping proper form and being comfortable (chafing can still happen, even in winter!) while you run.

  Your innermost layer should be sweat wicking, and layers on the outside should be wind breaking, but breathable.  It goes without saying, but even in winter remember no cotton socks!!  Blisters will happen this way, just look for thicker technical socks (or knee high socks, my favorites!) if you need more warmth.

    I have no experience at all with running on ice or snow, so I won't attempt to advise on that.  If someone out there does, please lend us your experience!  I've seen spikes for shoes to help with traction, but that's about all I know. :)  Pardon my southern heart!

Put me on ice, and this will be the result, I'm sure of it!

    Winter running has one more major difference for runners, and that's warm up times.  Colder temperatures mean it takes your muscles longer to warm up and loosen up, so take extra time  to walk and stretch before you run in winter, or you are flirting with a possible injury!  Cooling down for a bit longer is important too, to give yourself time to adjust.

    There are pros and cons to both seasons-- I know spring and fall are there too, but those days are few around here, and only amount to precious few "perfect" days, so I'm sticking to the big seasons.

Summer Pros:
*Fewer layers to wash and put on/ take off
*No cold hands and feet!
* More daylight to keep safe
*More animals/ flowers/ greenery to enjoy on your run

Winter Pros:
*No more sweat soaked runs
* Pollen?  What pollen?
* Getting to enjoy holiday decorations on the route
* You actually feel faster when the humidity and heat aren't unbearable

   So, both seasons are pretty equal, and it's really all about finding the drive to get out there, and finding some creative ways to adapt to whatever Mother Nature throws at you!

**Personal Update**

      Long run last night was wonderful!  The temp was great, we both held out well and I'm not even extremely sore today! We were actually quicker than our 5 miler, so the temps do make a difference! That long run is almost the halfway mark, and we still have 12 weeks to prepare for the Leo half!  It's exciting ( and we have only 6 weeks left in our training program, so we're just doubling each week, in case we miss one and to ensure we add miles slowly) and I'm a little nervous!

    I had to show you this too!  The Hare has a seriously genius idea for keeping up with headphones.  We only wear one for safety and to be able to talk, but the other one can get tricky!  If it hangs down it can mess with the other one in your ear.  He couldn't wear the camelback that he usually clips his spare earbud to (he's healing a tattoo, and it would have rubbed it severely), so he just looped it through his ponytail!  Who woulda thunk that??

Friday, August 16, 2013

Humor and Inspiration

   I'm keeping it short and lighter today-- I like finding random inspiring (and usually funny) things here and there related to running.  It reminds me and the Hare that we're not alone, and that everyone feels at least some of the things we are feeling!  Enjoy!

This made me laugh so hard-- and I would do it too!

This is a serious one-- this is Katherine Switzer, the first woman to run in the 1967 Boston Marathon.  The photos show the race coordinator attempting to physically pull her out of the race, and her boyfriend stopping him so she could race!  I highly recommend reading more about her-- she's a lovely woman!

I love funny spectator signs.  I think humor will have to get me through our 13.1!

This one just speaks for itself-- and I have met my momma!

For couples-- I love this one. :)  It really has made such a difference in our marriage!

This is touching for me-- with joint problems, and being told I couldn't, this gives me a lot of inspiration.

Yep!  I have laughed at shoe prices...except running shoes!

We do this often, friends want to go out but with a 6 miler the next day we need sleep!!

I actually lay like this sometimes-- but the feeling changes to "when can we go again!" quickly.

This gave me chills when I read it!!

Both my mom, my "other mother" and I can attest to this-- it will be the SMALLEST rock ever you trip on!

We even have a separate "tech clothes" basket now! :)  Is that bad?

I want this bumper sticker!

Monday, August 12, 2013

R.I.C.E.-- and I'm not talking starch here!

      If you've ever read a running book, blog, magazine, or anything dealing with running, one of the first things you likely see is a question from someone new about running while injured.  Is it ok to do?  How do I know?  How do I prevent it/ treat it?

  So here is the acronym-- rest, ice, compression, and elevation.  Sounds simple right?  Well, a lot of runners forget the "elevation" and totally ignore the "rest" parts of this word, especially while training (when you are most likely to be injured)!  

     This is inspired by the copy of Runner's World I just got-- it included "Running Injury Free", and I realized that I have blabbed on about R.I.C.E. tons, but haven't ever gone in depth about it!!  It is really simple, but unfortunately a lot of people (yes, we tend to get crazy and think our awesome bodies are invincible sometimes) forget to use all 4 letters of R.I.C.E.

  It helps to know what makes us injured in the first place.  I found this handy chart when I was researching injuries (I am the injury prone one, and also the paranoid one, so I read about it frequently) and thought it was a good visual for anyone to remember:

     For each one of these circles, there is a multiplied chance of you getting some type of injury.  There is some debate about the treadmill/ softer surfaces vs. road running, but honestly I am too new myself to know or notice much difference, so I leave that up to you to investigate (and please let me know if you find something or have experience!).

    Well, now that we see the risks and know the whole acronym, let's look into precisely how to implement the R.I.C.E. treatment if you happen to become injured.  I hope that doesn't happen, but just in case!

    For starters, as soon as you feel something "off" or "wrong", begin treating it!  If something is bothering you during a run, but not necessarily altering your gait, then take a few minutes with an ice pack after the run and prop the bothersome spot up for 10-15 minutes.  Avoid icing any longer than this in one sitting, as that can actually damage tissues.  Be sure to stretch gently, and ice periodically for at least a few hours if you can.

    Elevation is just that-- raising your injured body part above your heart.  It can feel a little weird, but just pile up some pillows on the bed or couch (someplace comfortable for you), and read or surf the net for a bit while you allow your leg to rest in that position.  Icing and elevating at the same time was my go to method, but whatever you find works best for you, by all means do that.

A wedge shape is best, so the knee isn't bent too much!

   If the injury is really getting to you, an ACE bandage or other compression device can help as well.  I pulled my calf mildly a while back, and I kept it in a bandage while I was walking around or out and about, and when I came home I elevated and iced it.  This is the general rule-- keep it stable and compressed while you must move it, and elevate it (for bloodflow reasons) when you can and REST IT.

    Rest is the most obvious and easy (supposedly) piece of the injury treatment plan, but the one least followed!  It's tough to not be sick, but still want to go out on a run, or feel guilty for "missing" one. Rule of thumb is one day off completely, to see how it feels in 24 hours.  If it is still bothersome, take another one or two off.  Any more than 3 days off and you should get to the doctor! Believe me, it is much better to take one day off than miss 4 months because you really did a number on an injury that was worsened by continuing training.

    I felt like this needed to be put here as well-- if you are unable to sleep or get comfortable, or walk, please forgo treatment at home and see a doctor as soon as possible!  Only someone medically trained can really give you the best treatment and advice, so above all else trust them and your own judgement.

    R.I.C.E. is really simple and effective if you are proactive with treatment as soon as you notice-- and even if it requires a little time off (as per your doctor, if needed) it's easier than you think to get back into it!  Stay safe out there!

**Personal Update**

      I am AMAZED at this run!  The hilly trail run from last week was 5 miles, but for some reason, this one felt so much more successful, for both of us!  There was a breeze, and that helped so much, as well as us running right at dusk (we were visible, I promise!).  We did walk for about 1/4 mile, but honestly our legs were on autopilot at that point, and we both laughed at how difficult it was to slow down and just walk for a minute!  I kind of felt like this...minus the treadmill of course, and I didn't fall.

   Pretty soon our long runs are going to be reaching lengths where we'll need some kind of fuel (or at least something a bit more than water!) and that is both exciting and terrifying for me!

Have you ever been injured?  Did you have to see a doctor, or did you use R.I.C.E only?  Do you fuel on long runs?  Talk to me about it!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Personal Update Post

   Apologies for taking a short break-- I've been out and about the past few days!  I love seeing friends and family, even though it does make my schedule wonky.  The Hare and I ran a 5 mile trail run over the weekend, and though we walked a bit more than I had hoped, we still did it, and actually in good time too (1:01)!!  The hills are brutal on the trail we ran, and the main trail we ran is covered in tiny gravel, so sometimes the going is a little tough (especially for 2 road runners like ourselves).  My legs are still unhappy about it a little, but it's the good sore feeling you get when you know that you've done well!  With the hot August weather in full swing too, I'm amazed that we did do as well as we did. :)

    We walked a lot of the up hills (the steep ones, the gravel made it tough, really...I'm not pansy-ing out!) but on the downhills we got to feel what being an elite athlete with a 5 minute mile might feel like.  Consequently, it looked mostly like this:

    It was fun though-- through sweat and screaming downhill flights.  I got the chance to dance (after a reaalllyyy long break) too-- so my body is a little extra tired from all of my using it lately!

    Oh, one last thing-- I found this the day before our laundry day a while ago, but kept forgetting to post it.  I giggled so hard when I saw it, because I could look around and see all of the things were true (except the medals since I made and posted about the awesome medal hanger)!  Does this ever happen to you?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Your first Half Marathon

  After getting a little more confident and doing some shorter (5k or even 10k) races, thinking about your first half marathon is a pretty natural step.  It is also a little scary (I knew I had officially lost it when I toyed with the idea of entering a race that took 13.1 miles...there is a sign on the interstate 13 miles from my town!!)  Driving that distance made me realize how far that really was, but with support (and the promise of carbs) we signed up for not one, but 2 half marathons in the coming months!  Can we call that a whole? Hahah, I kid (mostly).

I want this sticker when we finish-- it suits me perfectly!!

First we signed up for the Mississippi Blues Half Marathon in January.  It's in my husband's hometown, and its a world class event with great support, a great charity and not to mention the lure of an absolutely GORGEOUS finisher medal!

That puppy is also about 6 inches long-- they are huge and sparkly! (No, I'm not a magpie at all...)

     Then, my friend Iantha convinced us to sign up for a local half in my hometown-- the LEO half marathon, benefiting the Lion's Club and the Alzheimer's Association.  It is in mid November (so, technically this is our first, even though we chose it second!)  We waited a while before we signed up for this one, just because I wasn't sure we could do two within 3 months of one another!  We opted to, and are going to take this one less "seriously", and use it as a long training run, or a "test drive".  We'll get a chance to get the feel for it, and not over work ourselves or hurt ourselves (to finish is the goal anyway!

This is the medal design and logo for the LEO race. It's pretty cool actually, especially a small town race that's only been around 2 years!

     So, what are the "guidelines" for choosing a half marathon to run in?  Well, it's pretty straightforward, but here are the best tips I've heard/ seen.

*Determine your goal-- to simply finish or choose a time. (both races we're signed up for have an 8 hour window, so finishing no matter how we have to is no problem, some races have pace requirements).

*Choose one with at least 12 weeks to prepare-- so you can build your legs up to the task!

* Do you want to be in a huge race, or a small one?  We chose one of each, but I think having the smaller, local race first is a good plan so you don't feel as lost or intimidated.

* Choose one that will keep your motivation up!  Whether it's the theme, the charity they support, or just a pretty medal (yes, some people consider that too.. *coughme*) have something that you can use to keep you focused.

*How much time can you devote?  To training, and to travelling if the race isn't local.  All factors to consider!

* Make sure you have some support-- a friend or team to run with, or at very least someone to cheer you into the finish!  

This made me laugh-- and it makes sense!

     Whatever you do for your first race, be sure that you enjoy it and do what you can to soak up as much from the experience as possible!  You should be celebrating and loving it!

**Personal Update**

   Well, I have apparently "ruined" the Hare, so he says.  He was on his way home from work yesterday, and he said to himself "oh...we have to run today. Oh well, it's only 3.5 miles anyway, no big deal."  Then laughed at how insane that sounded!  We celebrated our official 6 months of running together by accidentally running further than our goal for the day was!  Not too much further, but we still did well. I can't believe it's already been this long, and we are still just as hooked as we were!  I am always amazed, and sometimes nervous (I ask at least once a week "do you reeaalllyy think we'll be ready for this by November??), but the next run day that rolls around, we almost always lace up and go (and if we don't we make up for it!).