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So Long, Runner’s Tan…

28 Sep

My runner’s tan is fading, and, as silly as it sounds, it is a little bittersweet. Because I was pregnant this summer and not in hardcore training mode, I was not able to spend as much time outside in the sunshine on long runs as usual. I tan VERY easily and since most of my racerback tops and shorts/running skirts fit just about the same way, by the end of spring/summer, I usually end up with a SERIOUS farmer’s runner’s tan. The tan lines are so deep that the tan usually stays with me through the fall and most of the winter…never really going away. They endure from year to year, even through seasons where my tank/shorts combo is traded info long sleeve tech tees and running tights.

In previous years I would complain about them, as they always made me look so silly in a bathing suit. It is really hard to feel sexy and attractive in bikini when every part of your body between the tops of your thighs and your shoulders is as white as Elmer’s glue and the rest of your body is nice and bronzed. And do not even get me started about the sock tan. I will forever look like I am wearing white socks…whether I am *actually* wearing socks or not.

This summer, however, the extreme South Louisiana temperatures and growing baby belly forced me indoors and more of my time was spent on the treadmill or in the pool training for the Rocketchix Triathlon. When I was able to get outside, it was usually at the end of the day with my running groups, when the sun was no longer high overhead. My poor runner’s tan is fading and I think I might even miss it a little. I had always thought of my tank top lines as something I had earned, something that I should be proud of. After all, they represented hours spent around my neighborhood or the LSU lakes, enduring the hot Louisiana sun and humidity. In some way, I feel like they were my own little weird badge of honor for getting out there and spending so much time and energy doing something physical.

The lines on my legs and the lines on my shoulders are not faint and my next spring, I am sure that they will be gone completely. But of course, somehow, the sock tan NEVER seems to go away. I swear I will be sporting this look in my high heels FOREVER.

Do you get a bad runner’s tan in the summer? Do you like or dislike your tan lines? How do you keep from getting them?

I #RunLA. Who Runs Your State?

14 Sep

In response to a recent klout article, I have been getting a flood of e-mails, Twitter DMs, and messages asking more specific questions about how I personally use social media to connect with other runners and triathletes. There really is no magic formula for it, but it really all began with #RunLA.

When I first moved back to Louisiana, I knew I needed to find my niche again. There was such an awesome running community in Upstate South Carolina (where we lived for many years) and I knew I needed to find that here. Always curious about trying new things, I decided to give Twitter a try. I added my bio and put up a photo…hard work done! I figured if I chatted up enough runners that I would eventually find someone in my town…or at least in my state (after all, its not like Baton Rouge is so no-name Podunk town) and we could go from there.

Through an odd twist of fate, I found a couple of other Baton Rouge runners, Brandon and Theresa. They were using the #RunLA hashtag to tag their run stats, discuss running groups, and talk about upcoming races. Woot woot! I had found just what I was looking for! The downside…there were only about 5 of us using the hashtag at first. Not being one who is easily discouraged, we kept on using it…religiously. Eventually, the word started spreading and as we found more road runners, trail runners, wannabe runners, triathletes, jogger moms, etc. we let them all know that the #RunLA hashtag was where the party was at! Before we knew it, dozens (I am pretty sure we are now in the hundreds) of people all over the state were on board and the #RunLA fam was born! Have I mentioned that we even made shirts so that we can find each other at events? Awesome, yes?

To see the kind of atmosphere we created (and are creating everyday), just search the hashtag. We exchange opinions on local races, share tips on local running stores, and get together for group runs or races. Most of the bigger cities in South Louisiana are all within one or two hours of each other, so traveling to races is not too big of a deal for us. To find a running buddy the next city over, all one of us has to do is search the hashtag, see who else is running that event and send a little Tweet. It is really that simple! Traveling for business or vacationing in a different city? No problem, find a local runner for tips on the best spots to run. Heck! You might even find a new training partner!

Over the last several months, I have gotten lots of messages from runners outside of Louisiana saying how they wish they had the supportive kind of network we have here in their area. My answer? You can!

YOU just have to start it! All it takes is one person to get it going!

You can #RunAL…
You can #RunAK
You can #RunAZ
You can #RunAR
You can #RunCA

Or, if you live in a bigger city, you could #RunDFW and #RunTX…or maybe you #RunATL and #RunGA! You see where I am going with this…

Pump your hashtag shamelessly! Well, okay, not totally shamelessly. Do not completely annoy your followers by tossing the hashtag on the end of every Tweet you send out. (Please don’t be THAT person.) But, if it is relevant, put it in there! As you find other runners in your area, or if some of your followers are runners you already know, direct message (DM) them to start using it too! Does your favorite local running store Tweet? Does your favorite local race Tweet? Do you have a weekly running group with a Twitter account? Get them all using your state’s running hashtag!

Help others. Some people who are new to Twitter or new to running might be hesitant or shy about just jumping into the conversation. If you are comfortable with the hashtag and know several people using it, politely introduce a newbie. For example, I will occasionally get a message from a runner in my area saying they just moved here or are new to the sport. If I ask them if they are familiar with the #RunLA hashtag and they say no, then I ask if they mind being introduced. If they are interested, I will send out a Tweet like…

“Hey #RunLA fam! Let’s welcome @_______. He/she is new to the area and is interested in training for a ________!”

Social media is about being supportive and building a community. Be nice to others and help them out when you can.

Give it time and do not be impatient. These things do not take off overnight. But, depending on your state, it might. You just never know! The internet is a funny thing and sometimes it can be hard to predict. So, if you start using your state’s running hashtag, and it does not seem to spread like wildfire, do not get discouraged. Keep trying. I promise you, eventually it WILL catch on. There are thousands of runners out there, and, obviously, they are looking to connect with others, or else they would not be on social media in the first place.

What state do YOU run? How do YOU connect with runners, cyclists, triathletes, and other fitness-minded people in your city or state?

I am a runner. I am pregnant. Please do not STARE.

27 Jul

I knew the day would come when I would start getting “the look”…the wide-eyed, head-shaking, disapproving look of someone who thinks it is preposterous that I am running…pregnant. (Oh, the horror! The HORROR!) It happened to me for the first time, or the first time that I actually noticed it, last night. And, to be honest, it caught me completely and totally off-gaurd.

I am now at the point where I am obviously showing. I keep trying to convince myself that I am not really “out there” yet, but I think I am in denial. You know, especially when people in my run group who had not been there in a couple of weeks see me and say, “Whoa! You have really popped out there, haven’t you!?” Yeah, so, I am *officially* baby bumpin’.

Other than my belly poking out, I am trying to keep on keepin’ on as much as possible, in as much as the same way as before, but with my activities modified as I feel I need to. When I found out I was pregnant, it never really crossed my mind to not run. I mean, surely women did it all the time, right? I used to have a step aerobics instructor who taught classes until she was 8 months along. If she could bop up and down on a step, I could keep running, right? After consulting with my doctor, explaining to him that before getting pregnant my body had been used to some serious weekly mileage, he agreed to let me keep running as long as I felt that I could. I promised him that I would listen to my body and use common sense…and then I went on my happy little runner way. No big deal.

And it was not a big deal…until I got “the look” last night.

Last night’s group run took us up along the Mississippi River levee. I love this route because it is a straight out-and-back route that allows me to see all of my fellow runners. These days, my back-of-the-pack runner status lets me take in all the views and really watch the group as a whole. It is really fun to see that many people participating in a hobby they love so much. Ah, I digress…

Anyway, what is different about the levee route is the number of spectators. Keep in mind that these are not intentional running spectators, they are just people who happen to be up on the levee, enjoying the view of the river…they also just happened to get caught in our flash mob of running awesomeness.

NOT me, but she's my hero!

I have never felt my pregnant running was awkward until last night…about 1 mile into our route. At this point, I am up on the levee, shuffling along running, taking in the beautiful view of the pink sky across the river. Turning my head back in front of me (I really should be more careful about watching where I am going anyway) I see this older woman ahead pointing at me (obviously at my belly) and whispering to her husband. As I get closer, I actually hear her call out to me and say, “That isn’t good for the baby, you know!”

Say what? Did I really just get called out…by a total stranger?

By the time my brain wrapped itself around what this woman had said I was well on my way down the route and was not able to respond. Besides, I am not sure if I would have even wanted to break my stride and interrupt my run to do so. I have read plenty of articles on pregnant running (after all, I wanted to know what I was getting myself into), and I new the stares and comments would come at some point. However, I figured I would be prepared with some snappy, well thought out, and educated come-back about how I know my body better than anyone else and that, when done with care, running was a perfectly acceptable activity for a woman with child.

I missed the boat on this one. Oh well. I have no doubt that this is just the tip of the iceberg. I better think of that snappy come-back pretty quickly. I have a feeling that I will need to whip out my “why pregnant running is okay” factoid card more often in the coming weeks. I suppose it just comes with the territory.

So, just as a courtesy, if you are out there tearing it up on the road and you see a baby bumpin’ runner, please don’t stare or give a look of disgust. Jog on over to her, give her a high five, and tell her to keep on keepin’ on!

Have you ever run through a pregnancy? Have you ever run through some sort of injury or in a situation that caused you to get disapproving faces/comments from others? How did you respond to that?

Negativity in the past…THIS is what running is all about.

26 Jul

First, I really want to say that everyone who reads katieRUNSthis is awesome. Your outpouring of support for your fellow runners (see comments on yesterday’s blog) is touching and it is so good to know that runners (especially female runners) really are supportive of each other and, ultimately, do not want to bring each other down.

Today I wanted to highlight a fellow blogger/runner and a new friend of mine, Christine, aka DubyaWife. I first “met” Christine via Twitter (thanks, #RunLA tag!), found out she was just starting to run, and encouraged her to come out to our weekly Happy’s Running group run. After a few weeks of peer pressure encouragement, she decided to come out, and I think it is pretty safe to say that she has not looked back since!

When I first met Christine at the group run, she basically said something like, “Look, I’m not a runner. I’ll probably walk most of the way. I might even come in last.” I gave her the raised eyebrow “so what” face and told her it was time to get going. Well, those group runs must have been like crack because before I knew it, she was posting solo runs on her Twitter and even blogging about her runs. Her paces kept going down and the speeds kept going up! She stuck with it…in the heat…and the humidity…because she wanted it bad enough.

Yes, it lit up!

This past Saturday, she completed her first ever OFFICIAL 5k at the Light Up the Night 5k Benefiting Operation Smile. I could not be more proud of her!

Guys, you should have seen her! She was running along in all her pink tu-tu glory…smiling the whole way. (She was obviously giving her best for Operation Smile!) In fact, not only did she set a PR for the distance, but she also WON the Brightest Runner Award! (Really now, could it have been given to anyone else??)

In her race recap summarizing that night, the very last line is, “I. Am. A. Runner.

Yes, Christine, you are a runner. You know why? Because you finally believed it! We knew you had it in you all along!

This photo is also "borrowed" from Christine's blog. 🙂

This, folks, is what running is really all about. It is about setting goals, working hard, making friends, getting healthy, trying new things, pushing yourself, and doing it all because you want more for yourself. At least, that’s what it means to me. It is not about being negative, putting others down, or having the attitude that your achievements are better than anyone else’s achievements.

To all of the other readers out there that think you aren’t “real” runners because someone says you are walking, jogging, shuffling, waddling, etc. too much (or not enough)…forget them. Whether you are pushing out 50+ miles per week, or 5+ miles per week, you are still running. As long as you are hustling, you ARE a runner. Just remember to always give it your best..for YOU…and no one else.

Happy running, friends! Keep it positive and share the love!

My family is growing, in more ways than one.

20 Jul

Last night at Happy’s Running was fun, despite being able to only complete 2.25 miles of the 3.1 mile route.

0.00 miles – 1.28 miles: Run
1.28 miles – 1.50 miles: Walk
1.50 miles – 1.76 miles: Run
1.76 miles – 1.85 miles: Walk
1.85 miles – 2.25 miles: Run
Total time: 27:03.

Obviously, I am struggling. Everyday that I go “slow” humbles me more and more. I am still fighting with my emotions over my “slowness” but I really am thankful that I can still get out there and run.

After the run, Brent and I handed out some of the #RunLA shirts and they were a HUGE hit! I was so excited! Everyone seemed to love them! SportScience makes amazing shirts and I think everyone was intrigued that they while they have the soft feel of a cotton t-shirt, that they are actually dri-wicking! BONUS! When I ordered the shirts, I tried to think ahead and ordered myself a medium AND a large…thinking I wouldn’t have to be putting on the large until much later in the summer. WRONG. I wore the medium last night, but I was seriously pushing MAXIMUM DENSITY in it, so I might be rocking the large from here on out. The large size is still a little big, but no worries. These days, I would rather wear something a little roomy than something that makes me feel like a sausage. Here are some pics of the other #RunLA shirts:

@RivsHughey at the Napa Half Marathon!

I am really enjoying watching the growth of the use of the #RunLA hashtag on Twitter. It is doing amazing things for the runners in this state. I love that we can watch and keep up with runners running ultramarathons to those training for their first 5k. When I first got started running, I know that I often felt overwhelmed and frustrated…or that I would never “get there” (you know, that point where I really felt like I could call myself a “runner”). I am thrilled to see this supportive community growing! Social media is here to stay, so we might as well maximize it find others with the same interests! Do you use a hashtag to connect with runners in your city or state? If not, get one going! You would be amazed at the awesome people you can connect with.

In other news, I also gave my new GO Sport ID band a whirl last night. I have an officially review of it coming, but all signs point to –> LOVE IT! It was super comfortable and it is so light that I did not even remember I was wearing it. I even wore it to work today!

GO Sport ID!

24 weeks and 4 days! Still running!

Oh, and how about this nugget of awesomeness! Since I was selected to be a Mommy Blogger for Woman’s Hospital, they are going to let me go to any and all of the prenatal fitness classes (held at my local Destination Maternity store) that my little heart desires! Woot woot! Bring on the prenatal yoga, prenatal step aerobics, and strong mamas classes! I am looking forward to trying different ways to mix up my exercise routine (now that I can’t run like I used to) and to meeting other like-minded fit mamas-to-be!

Lastly, there is a mini-camp tonight for the Rocketchix Triathlon at Woman’s Fitness Center. I just heard about this morning, but since I will need all the help I can get to get through this triathlon, I better make sure I am there! Plus, its FREE!

I am a race medal gold digger.

13 Jul

I will admit it, you CAN buy my love.

Yesterday, the Rock N Roll Series unveiled their new Heavy Medal race medal. You qualify to receive it by doing 10 Rock N Roll events (half or full marathons) in one series year. The new Rock Idol 10 medal is pretty awesome and is one that I would TOTALLY love to have hanging in my collection.

Photo courtesy of

I don’t know how this got me thinking about it, but I wondered to myself, “Would I ever run a completely sucky race if there was the promise of a ridiculously awesome medal at the end?” And by “sucky”, I mean completely unscenic, lame aid stations, hilly, double loop, in the rain/snow/desert, etc.

My answer? YES. My loyalty to a race can easily be secured with a heavy, fancy, shiny race medal.

Curious to know if other runners were as big of sell-outs as I am (and I mean that in the nicest way possible :)), I took to my Twitter (I love that my mom calls it THE Twitter). It turns out, I am NOT the only one! Of all the people that answered, 33% said a sucky route is NOT worth all the fabulous race bling in the world. That leaves me with the other 66% of people who would absolutely be coaxed into a less-than-stellar race/event with the promise of a rocking medal or other race swag. Woot! I’m not the only race medal grubber in the world!

I totally admire the people who answered no. I really do. That means they are truly out there for the love of the run. I can really appreciate that. While I do run “for the love of the run”, a little shiny incentive placed around my neck, accompanied with a pat on the back and a “Job well done!” never hurt anyone (especially me!) either.

2011 Rock n Roll Mardi Gras Marathon

And in other news…
I have decided to start putting myself on a weekly mileage goal of 20 miles. At 23.5 weeks big and pregnant, I feel like a realistic plan is:

Monday: Varsity Sports Running Group – 3.5 miles
Tuesday: Happy’s Running Club – 3.1 miles
Wednesday: Mid-City EZ Riders (Cross-Train on the Bike) – 15 miles
Thursday: Varsity Sports Running Group – 4 miles
Friday: Running in my neighborhood (with my Mace) – 3.5 miles
Saturday: Varsity Sports Running Group/Race – 6 miles
Sunday: Rest and stretch (P90X Stretch DVD? Maybe ride my bike?)

This mileage is only an approximation and to keep me on track with hitting my goal each week. Once upon a time (just last fall), I covered 20 miles in two or three days, but I think 20 miles per week is a reasonable and attainable goal for me. I do not plan on imposing time goals for myself while pregnant; I only want to keep my body used to the distance and “feeling” of running. This mileage includes warm-up and cool-down and I will walk any time I feel like I need to. But, for now, this is the plan.

Okay, I’m back to day dreaming about that Rock Idol 10 Heavy Medal. I may need to get a second job or take out a second mortgage to be able to pay for all those entry fees and traveling costs, but it WILL be mine! One day!

Are you a gold digger like me? Would you run a totally sucky race if there was an awesome prize waiting for you at the end?

Groups Doing Good: Black Girls RUN!

12 Jul

When I started walking the Breast Cancer 3-Day several years ago, one of the first things I noticed at the event was that the population of participants was mostly comprised of Caucasian females. Race is not something I normally notice, but it was SO obvious that the African-American, Hispanic, Asian, etc. women were being severely underrepresented. Hello! These women get breast cancer too! When I started running, I noticed the same demographic breakdown at races and other events. While I thought it was strange, I never really looked into it further.

Well, curiosity finally got the best of me, and a few months ago (at the risk of sounding out of place or rude) I broke down and asked a female African-American friend of mine why you don’t see more African-American women (and men, for that matter) at our local races or running groups. The general answer I was given was that (in her opinion, among her group of friends), fitness was just not something that was emphasized and that personal health issues were just something you kept to yourself and didn’t talk about much.

I was so puzzled by this because…isn’t it good for ALL PEOPLE to exercise and be healthy, regardless of race or sex?

Wanting to find out more about what could be done to encourage women (of all races) to get more motivated to exercise (and selfishly, run :)) and be more concerned with personal health education, I scoured Google. One of the groups I came across was Black Girls RUN! Their mission statement is simple, but I simply love it!

“Black girls run? Of course we do. In 2009, Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks created Black Girls RUN! in an effort to tackle the growing obesity epidemic in the African-American community and provide encouragement and resources to both new and veteran runners. The mission of Black Girls RUN! is to encourage African-American women to make fitness and healthy living a priority. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 80% of African-American women are overweight. BGR! wants to create a movement to lower that percentage and subsequently, lower the number of women with chronic diseases associated with an unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle.”

Toni and Ashley. Photo courtesy of BGR!

BGR! is definitely not all talk. In addition to a website that offers a wealth of information on gear, lifestyle issues, healthy recipes, and health issues, they also put all of this into action by encouraging readers to join them at weekly group runs. BGR! hosts group runs in most major cities! If you would like to see if there is one in your area, click here.

Some people might wonder why I, obviously NOT a black girl, would be so interested in such a group. I will tell you why…because seeing unhealthy/unfit people is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves and I 100% support any group who is encouraging others to get up, get moving, and get healthy! Being educated about health and fitness is good for ALL people, and if BGR! is what makes a particular woman feel comfortable and get involved, well then that is AWESOME!

While there is not a BGR! group run in Baton Rouge, I have noticed the population of Black Girls RUN!ning in my weekly running club growing! Woot! I am so encouraged by this! I hope they will read this, find out more about this group, and get some information about starting a weekly group run in this area.

Ladies, you know who I’m talking to…

Just promise you’ll let this White Girl RUN! with you? Pretty please? (I need all the help I can get!) 🙂

Have you ever heard of Black Girls RUN!? What do you think of this group? What is one of your favorite organizations that you think is doing a great thing for our running community?

Who wants to get mugged running? NOT ME!

7 Jul

Yesterday I heard some news that seriously bummed me out.

One of my favorite spots in the Red Stick to run is around the LSU Lakes. Its scenic, a great route, and occasionally you can catch a good breeze coming off the water. There is never a shortage of runners, cyclist, walkers, etc. catching some fresh air around the lakes. Well, that might be changing.

Apparently, some yahoos think it would be fun to start robbing people…at GUNPOINT around the lakes. And they must have some serious kahones too, because they are doing it at all times of day (from broad daylight to dusk). They are not targeting any one type of runner/walker, just people who are alone.

The other night, a lone male runner was robbed. The armed robbers must not have gotten their fill because they then went over to the Lutheran church near campus (who was kind enough to install a water fountain and misting system for all people enjoying the lakes to use) and robbed them too! C’mon! Who robs a CHURCH!? For crying out loud!

These are not the first two instances I have heard about trouble around the lakes. There have been rumblings of other robberies, and I, naively, continued running alone. You know, because I’m invincible. Surely this could never happen to me, right? Well, from now on, I am taking NO chances.

Here are some things I plan to do to try and minimize my chances of getting a gun in my face while running. These tips apply not only to areas that I frequent but really anywhere that you might decide to go and get your run on.

When I do decide to run alone (in my neighborhood), I plan on carrying pepper spray. That’s right. I might look like the crazy pregnant running lady wielding my pepper spray, but I don’t care. I am keeping me and Baby Key safe. I am warning you, if I have my headphones on, you better start yelling from a distance if you want my attention. Don’t go getting all crazy and come up behind me and tap me on the shoulder…unless, of course, you want to get sprayed.

Jogger Pepper Spray

Wear only one of my two earbuds. I should have been doing this all along, but it makes complete sense. Having only one earbud in allows me to still hear my music and keep my foot strike to the beat, but still allows me the safety of hearing cars, other runners/cyclists, dogs, or anyone trying to get my attention.

If running in places like the LSU lakes, trails, or anywhere else secluded, use the buddy system. Alright kids, I know it sounds juvenile and it sounds a little kindergarten-ish, but buddy up. I am not saying you have to hold hands and all that jazz, but there is safety in numbers. I have, so far, not heard of a group of runners/walkers, getting mugged…there is probably a reason for that. If you are in Louisiana, hop on Twitter and post with the #RunLA hashtag. There is bound to be someone who is free to go run with you! This is another reason I advocate group runs. No one is dumb enough to rob a MOB of runners.

Partners in crime! @adriennewraps

If you insist on running alone, freaking tell someone! It takes all of 2 seconds to call your mom, spouse, best friend or whoever to tell them where you’re going and about how long you will be gone. Heck, if you don’t feel like doing that, post it on Facebook, Twitter, or Foursquare to let someone (anyone) know where you are. That way, someone will know if you have been gone too long.

If you insist on running at night, make sure you are visible. Look, I know they are dorky, but go and get one of those reflective vests. Or, you could even be as cool as me and get yourself a fancy head lamp…and some neon. A little neon never hurt anyone.

Ain't no shame in my game! You like that crazy eye, don't you?

I know this gear does not register really high on the Scale of Cool, but getting hit by a car or kidnapped doesn’t sound really fun either.

Use your brain, people. If you are running/riding in an area and you are getting that bad juju feeling like something is just not right, listen to your gut and get out of there. It isn’t worth it. I know that as runners, we can be obsessive about making sure we get our training mileage in, but it is not worth getting a gun pointed in your face. Be smart!

What do you do to stay safe on your runs/rides? Do you encourage others to stay safe as well?

SLOW is totally the new FAST.

6 Jul

At least in my world it is. My body only moves in two speeds these days…slow and slower.

After my completely WRETCHED performance at Happy’s Running Club last night, I am still astounded as to how this happened only the day before.

2011 BASF Freedom Mile

How do I go from getting 2nd in my age group on one day to *barely* being able to squeak out a mile at my running group? Just goes to show you…during pregnancy, your body can literally change from day to day. Some days are good, some are not. Its funny how on “good” days, I am so quick to ride that high, but on “bad” days, I beat myself up about it SO badly. It is such an adjustment when your brain is saying, “Go faster, you turtle!” but your body is saying, “If you don’t slow down, I’m going to snap your legs off at the ankles just to prove a point.”

C’est la vie.

I am definitely at the point where my body no longer wants to run like a gazelle speeding across the savannah. No, those days are history…at least for a little while. But, all hope is not lost! I recently came across this article (thanks, @sbarrouquere) about the benefits of slow running. I mean, I knew that all the elite runners spent most of their time running “slow” (keep in mind that an elite athlete’s “slow” is my hauling you-know-what-I-am-about-to-die pace) but I never really thought of all of the other benefits that slow running offers. The article mentions that slow running is “the foundation of your running house.” When you think about it, this is so true. The slow run is what EVERYTHING else builds from. For now until the end of October, I will just plan on taking care of my “running house.” This means no new renovations, no crazy upgrades. I want to keep a solid 5k foundation and be able to build from there once Baby Key arrives. That, I can handle.

In addition to a bruised ego, last night’s run left me with seriously sore calves and ankles. I know EXACTLY where this pain is coming from. It is my own fault for not stretching and doing the proper strength training I had been doing. My excuse has been a lack of time, but I have to start making more time for strengthening my muscles, even if that means cutting my cardio (running) time shorter. After I walked in the door though, my whole attitude changed as I saw these jewels waiting for me!! WOOT!

New calf sleeves! Hallelujah!

The plan for today is to take breaks at work to work in mini-sets of lunges, squats, and calf raises. My lunch hour will be spent stretching…and stretching some more. Tonight, I plan to put on my new calf sleeves and hit my neighborhood for a little solo running. Group running rocks, but maybe I just need some time alone tonight to find my zen.

So, from here on out, slow I go (channeling my inner Kara Goucher the whole way). You might even find me walking. (I know, right??) But, you WILL still find me out on the roads…tearing it up at a speedy “mall walking” pace. I might even give those blue-haired old ladies down the street a run for their money. Please keep those giggles to yourself. 🙂

How do YOU feel about slow running? Do you work slow runs into your training? Do you feel defeated on days when your body forces you to take it down a notch?

Falling in love with running…again.

5 Jul

Last night I got the kindest comment/e-mail from an old friend (that’s right, first boyfriend EVER from 8th grade…I am calling you out 🙂 ) asking about running. After running through high school, his romance with running ended in favor of other sports like hiking, kayaking, etc. Now he is interested in getting motivated to start pounding the pavement again and needs some tips on how to get his running mojo back!

You can read the full comment here, but here is a snippet of it…

“So, long story short, what suggestions, if any, do you have for making running interesting again? I’m having to start slowly because of my ankles, but my body remembers the high-intensity workouts and cadence of at least a 6-min mile. I just don’t know where to go or how to cope when I can’t do what I used to do. It’s like a quarter-life crisis (I’m expecting to live to 112!)!”

Over the years, I’ve taken breaks, had times where I took the sport more seriously than others, or even faced the dreaded runner’s burnout (GASP!). Here are a few ideas (in no particular order) on rekindling that love of running or just getting started, in general.

Get good shoes. I know I have said this a million times over, but seriously, it is SO important. I am not going to say that the employees at those big box sporting goods stores don’t know what they are doing, but your best bet is to find a running specialty store in your area and get properly fitted. People who work at running specialty stores are more knowledgeable about the runner’s body and finding the right shoe for your gait and foot. Their goal is to help keep you injury-free and running happily!

Find a group. Again, I know I preach about the benefits of social running a lot, but it is because I believe in it. When you are at the point where you need motivation and support, there is no one that you can rely on more to keep you accountable than your running buddies. Plus, it is FUN! Seeing your friends each week (or a few times a week) puts me in a good mood and makes me WANT to run. They are always there to push me when I need it and watching us all meet our goals (whatever they are) keeps me going.

Be realistic about speed and pace. Just because you could run a 6-minute mile in high school does not mean you can (or should) be doing that now. For those of you who participated in track/cross-country in high school (I did NOT), those glory days were (at least) a decade ago. It is not realistic for you to be able to hit those same goals now, so many years later, after not having run in so long. That doesn’t mean you can’t get there, but you’ll just need to be patient with yourself and train properly. Set new, realistic goals and stay focused on those.

Get a good program and be consistent. Whether you are a new runner or someone trying to find the passion again, a good program can be a very valuable tool. If you haven’t done ANY running or any in a long time, I highly recommend the Couch to 5k program. This program is do-able, not overwhelming, and provides really amazing results. I have had friends, relatives, and even my husband complete the program with great success. For training for longer distances or even increasing speed, check out any of the programs by Hal Higdon. I have used his programs for increasing speed on my half marathon and for training for my full marathon. Just remember, like with any training program, consistency and commitment are the key. No one said every run has to be “great”…just keep doing them! Just keep trying!

If not using a program, dial up the distance and intensity slowly. Use the 10% rule. Want to do your best to stay injury-free? Then remind yourself that you are NOT Superman. If not using a specific program, remember to increase weekly training mileage by no more than 10% per week. Keep track of your mileage and be smart about adding distance. There are a lot of online tracking tools out there (DailyMile is a very popular one), but a notebook works just as well. Remember that just because your head is all gung-ho, does not mean your body is ready.

Keep kayaking, hiking, or whatever it is you like to do. Anyone who runs will tell you, running can be addictive. While running is fun, don’t get obsessive about it…unless you want to. If you are into kayaking, cycling, swimming, hiking, etc., still make time to do those things. No need to give up one thing just to incorporate another activity. Plus, doing a variety of activities will keep your body and skill level well-rounded. Or, if you are the outdoorsy type, give trail running a try! I would not suggest trail running in your road running shoes (check out Salomon or Brooks for awesome trail running kicks), but hitting the trail can be an awesome way to break up the monotony of road running.

Read running magazines and immerse yourself in running culture.
The next time you are at the book store, pick up a copy of Runner’s World or any other running or triathlon magazine. Browse through the running books in the Sports section. On your next free Saturday, spend some time hanging out at the running store…asking questions, getting advice, meeting other runners, and checking out the gear. Better yet, go out to an event that you would like to run one day, and just watch. Being a spectator is fun and you get the chance to watch others and learn a lot. I know that when I am around other runners and cool gear, I always find some inner motivation and get jazzed up!

Sign up for a race. Last, but not least, pick a goal race, put it on your calendar, and put a big red circle around it! Knowing that you have an event that you have to be ready for will help keep you committed and focused. Take it a step further by sharing this goal with your family, friends, and new-found running buddies! Let them hold you accountable to stay focused on your goal. Keep your eyes on the prize!

So, there you go! Those are my go-to reminders when I feel myself needing that extra push on getting outside or staying focused on my training.

How do YOU recover from a running vacation? What advice would YOU give to someone trying to get their running mojo back?