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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?

My child is officially ON THE MOVE.

29 Jun

I thought seeing the ultrasound was just about the coolest thing ever…and then he MOVED…and I FELT it.

When we first saw Baby Key moving around on the ultrasound, it was reassuring because the technician said everything was progressing perfectly and normally. I could see him moving but I could not feel it yet. That all changed last night. After I got home from Happy’s Running Club, Brent and I grabbed a quick bite to eat, I took a shower, and then we headed off to bed. Right after I laid down, I felt a nudge…from the inside! I immediately thought, “What was THAT!?” And then I realized, it was just Baby Key saying, “Yo, mom! What’s up?” I started giggling and immediately told Brent. We laid there for at least another hour feeling the kicks and marveling about how awesome it all was.

Was it my rockin’ run at Happy’s? Was it the good mood I was in from seeing all my #RunLA fam? Have I just been eating my Wheaties? Who knows. All I do know is that this child is on the move! As soon as I woke up this morning, he was at it again!

Am I growing a little track star? Is he already doing speed work in there? Is he running laps or dreaming of his first 5k? Maybe he’ll be wearing a gold medal in the 2032 Olympics for sprints and relays? A mama can dream! Or maybe he’ll be a famous soccer player? His daddy sure wouldn’t mind that!

These should make @RunBimma proud. 🙂

I feel so blessed in so many ways these days. I have this amazing, supportive husband, I have this awesome little man who is getting stronger everyday, and I have all of super motivating new running buddies.

My husband + my #RunLA fam = the best cheering squad EVER.

I’m really not sure what I would do without them. They understand when I am having a bad day and they freely dole out the high fives on a good day. And I have to say, post-run sweaty hugs from running buddies are the best. It excites me to know that after Baby Key arrives he will have all these active, healthy role models to look up to. Plus, it will be kind of fun bringing the BabyJogger out to the Happy’s Running and Varsity Sports groups. Baby Key is going to be spoiled from all the attention, I just know it. 😉

Being Back of the Pack is Humbling

27 Jun

If you have ever come in last at anything, you know what I am talking about. If you have ever come in last at something that you used to be good at, then you especially know what I am talking about.

Being at the back of the pack is about the most humbling spot for any group run/ride or race participant. I know this first-hand, as I have been pulling the caboose in a lot of group runs and rides lately. It is such a weird feeling and I will be honest…it is taking time adjusting to it.

At the first of the year, I had been really working on my speed and had FINALLY started placing (first even!) in my age group. Let’s not get carried away or anything…I was never in the position to actually win overall or even get overall female, but I was definitely improving!

2nd place in age a TRAIL RUN!

I should never have taken that “runner’s high” for granted. What I wouldn’t give these days to just come in at the middle of the pack. 🙂

At the group ride on Saturday, out of about 8 riders, I came in last…even after the mountain bikes and cruisers. I am keeping the same cadence and pushing with the same intensity that I have always cycled with, but I am just going slower. More weight just does not move as fast. At my last few group runs, I have certainly rocking last place…even cutting the route miles if I feel like I need to.

Coming in last and being forced to take it down a notch has certainly humbled me. It takes a lot of guts to get out there and do something, knowing good and well when you start the activity that you are not going to be awesome at it. Please don’t think that I’m trying to toot my own horn or anything, because I’m not. This post is dedicated to ALL of the “back of the packers” out there. I am inspired by your perseverance.

I know that I am only going to be getting slower, and (for now) I am okay with that. But I want all of those hanging at the back with me to keep pushing and keep getting faster. Just remember to pat me on the back as you are passing me by. 🙂

Where in the pack do you fall? Where do you want to be?

Today’s Awesome Factor = 12.

15 Jun

After my realization yesterday that I needed to just accept what my limits are right now (however temporary they may or may not be) and just go with them, my whole attitude changed. I decided that this is just the station in life I am currently at and all I can do is make the best of it! Seriously, it was as if the heavens opened up and rays of sunshine started beaming down. You know, something like this…

How could this not make you smile? 🙂

Surprisingly, I found some motivation at my job (a complete miracle in itself!) and the afternoon passed super quickly. I got really excited about my Tuesday night running group because we had three visitors and I got to turn virtual Twitter running buddies into in-real-life running buddies!

(Please overlook my all-white running ensemble. Apparently I packed my running clothes with my eyes closed.)

L to R: @DubyaWife, ME, @Bambi_P, @JenZenator, @RunBimma

And 3.0 miles and 36:00 awesome minutes later, here we are rocking that post-run glow! And yes, even with 4 weeks on me, Ms. Jen Z still beat me in. Wings on her feet, I tell you!

L to R: @Bambi_P, @JenZenator, ME, @DubyaWife

After the fun, we had delicious sandwiches provided by Jimmy John’s (crazy delicious AND they deliver!) and Tin Roof Beer…which, of course, I could not partake in. It smelled good though! On a side note, we toured the Tin Roof Brewery a while back for a BR Tweet-up and it was really fun to see how it was made.

It is amazing the kind of boost that you can get from being around positive, motivated people. Seeing my regular running buddies, along with a few new ones, really helped give me a new energy!

Tonight, I’m mixing up my training a little bit. Brent and I have decided to join a group ride called Wednesday Bricks at Alligator Bayou. The route is around 13 miles and the group keeps about a 15mph speed. I’ll have to push it in my Trek, but I think I can keep up! And, if not, the route is a loop so it isn’t like I can really get lost. We have been wanting to get in on a group ride for a long time and we are ready to take the plunge! Like with the group runs, a group ride will probably help me increase my speed, keep me motivated, and pick up some new tips and tricks on cycling. And I am sure I’ll meet some really cool new cycling/triathlon peeps! Bonus!

Trek WSD 7.3 FX

On top of all of THAT, we are now less than 24 hours away from knowing if Nugget is a boy, girl…or both!  How exciting!  I am so anxious and the suspense is just about to kill me.  I hope I am able to sleep tonight!  I better ride hard this evening so I wear myself out.

On a scale of 1 – 10, my awesome factor today is totally at a 12. I plan on riding this high as long as possible. 🙂

How do you mix up your workouts or keep them from getting boring? What is your awesome factor today?

A Few Words for the New Runner

18 May

I got the most fun phone call from an old friend this morning! She has decided to give running a try and she needed some advice on shoes, sports bras, etc. This particular friend has recently modified her eating habits by cutting out sodas, counting calories, and limiting the fast foods. While that successfully lost her a significant amount of weight, she has now plateaued and is ready to fire up the ol’ metabolism and kick it into HIGH GEAR! I’m so excited for her!!

I’m going to be honest, when I started running, I thought it sucked. SUCKED, I tell you. I thought those people who said they loved running were just liars…or crazy…or both. After a few times running, I realized why it sucked so much…because I literally NO idea what I was doing. I had all the motivation in the world, but I was killing my body and running just about as inefficiently as possible. Oh, and did I mention…I was also running in Nike Shox. GASP! (Running…in cross-trainers?? Oh, the horror!!)

After several tries and feeling miserable, I knew I had to be doing something wrong. So I started talking to EVERYONE about running…people that worked at the running stores, people online, random people I stopped around the LSU Lakes. I tried to gather all the info I could on apparel, shoes, form, technique, hydration, nutrition, etc. I bought every running/fitness magazine I could find. I inundated myself with information. And something must have worked, because everything started getting easier. Before I knew it, I was enjoying running! Woot!

To get me to this point, I was offered A LOT of advice. Here are my Top 3 things that made a difference to me:

1. Get yourself a pair of REAL running shoes.
For the love of Pete, PLEASE do not just go down to your favorite big box sporting goods store and pick out some that look “cool.” I beg you to find your local running specialty store and be properly fitted. This will save you from (some) injuries and will help you understand WHY you need the shoes you do. Understanding your form and foot strike will make all the difference in the world.

Suacony Fastwitch 5

2. Invest in BodyGlide.
This stuff should be considered a miracle product. I was advised to purchase this product about 7 years ago when I started walking the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. In all of my 60-mile walks, half marathons, and marathon, I have NEVER gotten a blister. Seriously, I could literally bathe in this stuff. With its no-odor and non-greasiness, I give a big thumbs up! I’ve doused my feet in it and I’ve even been known to put it around my chest and shoulders to prevent rubbing by my sports bra.

3. Join a running group or find a buddy.
There are going to be days where you feel unmotivated. That’s just the way it is. There are going to be days when you are sore and feeling down and you don’t feel like running. It happens. You know what the best cure is? A running buddy to offer you a hand, pull you up off the ground, and offer you encouraging words. Social running groups are worth their weight in gold. In fact, I run in two different groups per week (Happy’s Running and Varsity Sports). I’ve been able to make new friends at all different levels. The faster people give me motivation to push a little harder, and the slower people remind me to be encouraging to others…as we’ve all had to start somewhere.

Me and my new running friend, Andrea Bonnette.

So if you are just getting started, CONGRATULATIONS and a big HIGH FIVE to you for starting on this new journey to health and happiness! Take it one day at a time and remember to enjoy the scenery!

For some other ideas and tips on getting started, check out @bekkib73’s blog! I’ll also leave you with this quote that I stole off of Louisiana Running Company’s facebook this morning…

“There is no limit to what you can imagine. And with commitment, with effort, what you can imagine you can become. Put your mind to work for you. Believe that you can do it. The world will tell you that you can’t. Yet, in your belief you’ll find the strength, you’ll find the ability, to do it anyway.” Ralph Marston

For my veteran runner readers, what advice do you think is important for someone just starting out in the sport?