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Hop on board the #c210k bandwagon!

29 Mar

Now that warmer temperatures are setting in and my race schedule has opened up a little, I have decided to get back on a training plan. Yesterday, I made the decision to start focusing on speed versus distance. Training for distance in the South Louisiana spring/summer heat just is not fun, and since I have never done a speed training program, I decided that was the plan I wanted to get on. I have done distance training plans for every distance from a 5k (when I first started running) through a marathon. And while I have done several speed drills in my run workouts, I have never put myself on a plan to specifically get faster and maintain that faster speed. Well, times are a-changin’!

After I made this decision, my friend, @RunNeicyRun, said she would get on board with me…except she wanted to go for distance while I worked on speed. No problemo! I modified the plan for each of us, based on our goals. And then I tweeted about it. And lots of people said they wanted to do it too!

And then I got excited! WOO HOO!

In fact, enough people wanted in on this sweet running action that I just decided to post the training logs here instead of e-mailing them out to everyone. So, here we go…


COUCH TO 10k (13-Week Plan)

If you are interested in mastering the DISTANCE, here are your training logs:
c210k DISTANCE Plan (.xls)
c210k DISTANCE Plan (.pdf)

For DISTANCE runners, on your plan, where is says “RUN”, keep in mind that this does NOT mean “SPRINT.” During your “RUN” intervals, run at a speed that you feel pushes you, but not at a speed that is so fast that you tire out and feel unable to complete the entire workout.

If you are interested in mastering the SPEED, here are your training logs:
c210k SPEED (.xls)
c210k SPEED (.pdf)

For SPEED runners, your speed run and easy run/tempo run paces are to be determined by you, based on your ability. Depending on the 10k goal time that you have in mind, you can use a site like this to help you determine what your target paces are.

If you are on Twitter, after you complete a work out, I encourage you to Tweet about it so that we can all encourage each other. Be sure and add the #c210k hashtag! You can also add a hashtag with the corresponding week and day that you are on. For example, here is what I Tweeted yesterday after completing the Week 1, Day 1 workout:

As I mentioned above, I got started on this program yesterday, but you can get going whenever you like and schedule your runs on whatever days work for you.

For the #RunLA fam…If you would like to participate in this as a group, you are more than welcome to! Day 1 and Day 2 workouts of each week will be done by you, on your schedule. We can all do the Day 3 workout together! I am planning to meet on Saturday mornings at 7:00AM at Milford Wampold Memorial Park on Stanford Avenue. This time/location is tentative and is certainly flexible. If you have any suggestions for a better time/location, please e-mail me. All runners are welcome (whether you are going for distance or speed) and I promise to stay with the last runner. So, whatever your ability, I can assure you that no one will be left behind!


And just for funsies, since I am totally ready to throw my body into a training cycle (full steam ahead!), I will also be incorporating a lower body AND core training program. I found some awesome plans over at Shrinking Jeans. I love that they are structured in such a way that they don’t feel overwhelming.

In addition to sticking with the above running program, at the end of the next 30 days, I will be able to do the following:
100 lunges*
100 squats
2:00 min burpees
2:00 min wall-sits
100 sit-ups
35 push-ups
2:30 min plank

*You’ll notice that lunges are not shown on the “Kick-Ass April” plan. Since lunges do wonders for my legs, I added these in. Each day, I will do the number of lunges equal to the number of squats listed on the workout.


I fully expect this to be a complete and total shock to my system. I have not done something like this in about a year and a half, but I am ready. I am MORE than ready to knock off the last of this baby weight, and I hope that we can achieve our goals together. My weight when I started the program yesterday was 159.5lb. My lowest weight ever as an adult was 129lb, but I looked too thin and I only maintained that for about a week. My realistic racing weight is around 135lb, so I am setting that as my weight goal. While I certainly do not expect to hit that target in the next 30 days, I am hoping to hit that by the end of this training cycle.

Lastly, to prove to all of you that I am doing this right along side of you, I will be adding a “LOGS” page to the top of this blog. Each day I will post my training log for the previous evening’s workout…even including my weight. GASP!

Well, I think that covers everything! Let’s get started!

So, are YOU with me? Let me know what plan you are doing and what your goals are! If you are on Twitter, leave your handle in the comment so that we can all cheer each other on!

Running Terms for Newbie Runners – Types of Runs

28 Mar

It’s that time again! Time for Round 2 of Running Terms for Newbie Runners! (Click here for Running Terms for Newbie Runners, I). As I have mentioned before, when I was a newbie runner, I tried to soak up as much as I could about the running world. There is so much information out there and sometimes it can be a little overwhelming. I hope this helps break it down a little bit for you.

Every good running program should be comprised of at least 3 runs per week. This includes fartleks (Swedish for “speed play”), a tempo run, and a long run.

A tempo run (also called a lactate-threshold run) is run at a pace that is considered “steady effort” but not as fast as a 10k race pace. Tempo runs help develop your anaerobic (lactate) threshold, which is necessary for increasing your speed. Tempo runs teach your body to clear out the lactate build-up in your muscles more quickly and efficiently, thus preventing muscle fatigue. To do a tempo run, you will want to do 5 to 10 minutes of slower, warm-up running. Next, continue running for 15 to 20 minutes at about 10 seconds slower than your 10k pace. Finish this run workout with 5 to 10 minutes of cool down. A general guideline for pacing yourself (if you do not want to go by time) is to go by your breathing. For tempo runs, you should be making two footfalls while on the inhale and one footfall on the exhale. If you are breathing faster than that, slow down a little.

That looks like a LONG run!

If you are training for a half marathon or full marathon, long runs will need to become your friend. A long run is your once-a-week chance to push yourself for distance. Typically, long runs are done on a weekend, and usually on the same day of the week that your race falls on. The distance covered by your weekly long run will be dictated by your training plan. Your long runs should be run over 1 minutes per mile slower than your goal race pace for three-quarters the total long run distance. In the last one-quarter of your run, increase your effort/pace to match that of your goal race pace.

In addition to these 3 critical runs per week, there are other types of runs you can incorporate…

An “easy run” is exactly what it sounds like…an easy run. An easy run is intended to be run at a pace which can be maintained for a substantial amount of time, without much effort. A good “litmus test” for the right pace for you would be the ability to hold a conversation while running. If you are huffing and puffing on your route, you are moving too fast on your easy run. A general guideline for pace would be to add 20 to 30 seconds to your goal race pace.

YASSO 800s
Yasso 800 workouts can help you predict your marathon time by running distances of 800 meters. Yasso 800 workouts follow a simple formula…run 800m, recover (slow jog or walk) the same amount of time it took you to run the 800m, repeat. On the average track available to the public, 800m is two laps around the track. This is, by far, one of the easiest workouts to remember. My friend, BJ, wrote a great post on Yasso 800s just the other day. He covers them more in depth, so be sure to check it out!

Sounds like a lot of stuff to remember, right? Not to worry. Here is an example.

Let’s say you want to run your first half marathon with a goal of finishing in 2:30:00.

Your race day pace is: 11:26 min/mi (5.24 mph)
Your easy run pace is: 12:57 min/mi (4.63 mph)
Your tempo run pace is: 10:54 min/mi (5.50 mph)
Your fartlek/speed training pace is: 9:09 min/mi (6.67 mph)
Your long run pace is: 12:57 – 14:29 min/mi (4.63 – 4.14 mph)
Your Yasso 800s pace is: 5:03 min/800m (5.90 mph)

To help you figure out your personal training speeds, check out this page of running calculators here.

I hope this helps you understand different types of running workouts a little better. Don’t be afraid to try them!

What is YOUR favorite run of the week? How many times a week and what workouts do you incorporate?

Plyometric Drills for Runners

14 Mar

“Jump around! Jump around! Jump up! Jump up and get down!” ~ House of Pain

If you want to increase speed as a runner, a good place to start is by incorporating plyometric drills into your weekly run workouts. A lot of new runners look at adding drills to your workouts as something that only “serious runners” do, but runners of all levels can reap benefits from jumping, leaping, and skipping! (And don’t worry, it is totally okay if doing these drills makes you feel like a kid again!) I started doing plyometric workouts about a year and half ago when I was going through the running study at the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training and I have seen serious improvement. While I fell off the wagon with doing these exercises while I was pregnant (not a good idea for pregnant ladies to go jumping around), it is time for them to reappear on my training schedule!

“[Plyometrics] teaches the proprioceptors of your muscles and joints to push off the ground with greater force.” ~ Donald Chu, Ph.D., Jumping Into Kinetics

The many benefits of including plyometrics in your training include increasing your speed, increasing your flexibility and agility, improving your running coordination, and decreasing your likelihood of injury. In addition to these benefits, one major advantage to adding plyometrics to your routine is that it does not add much time to your training. Many plyometric drills can be incorporated into your schedule by only adding a few minutes to each workout.

Distance runners are most likely to benefit from plyometric workouts. As distance runners, our running economy is directly proportional to our muscle’s ability to use oxygen efficiently. Plyometric workouts utilize different types of muscles (fast-twitch) than are used in distance running. The quick, powerful bursts of movement increase the speed of your muscle contractions and boost your speed performance. When both types of muscles (slow-twitch and fast-twitch) are strengthened, you will find that you will reach the point of fatigue much later than a runner who only works on distance runs. Thus, your running economy improves. Plyometric training will helps distance runners use their muscles most efficiently.

To reap maximum benefits from plyometric training, you only have to add drills to your workouts 1 or 2 times per week! There are lots of plyometric exercises out there, but here are a few of my favorites:




(Please keep in mind that you do NOT have to start out jumping as high as is seen in this video. You can start much lower, on a step or curb, for example, and increase height as you get stronger.)

Here is an example workout schedule that would build up your plyometric abilities over 5 weeks. Starting out slow might help you build your strength and coordination. Try and incorporate each weeks’s workout twice per week! As you progress in your training, you can always add other plyometric exercises. You can view and print a list of additional exercises here, or click here to download a .pdf.

Keep in mind that it is best to do plyometric drills on dirt, grass, soft tracks, or cushioned floors…you know, just in case you do lose your footing.

Do YOU incorporate plyometric training into your workouts? If so, how have you seen improvement? What other plyometric exercises do YOU do?

Stop Being A Tourist

26 Jan

I know you.

You are the person who looks at all your running friends with amazement. You listen to their Monday morning recaps of races and secretly wish you had a story of your own.

You are the spouse or significant other of a runner. Always present at the finish line, holding the camera and ready with a hug. The whole time you are waiting, you wish you were on the course too.

You are the person who jogs once or twice a week but never signs up for a race, fearing that it might make you “too serious.” Heaven forbid you get on a training plan and push yourself!

You are the person who looks at super star runners like Dean Karnazes or Deena Kastor and thinks that because you cannot run like that that you should not even try.

You are the person who looks at people with their race medals, secretly wishing you could feel the weight of that hardware hanging on your neck.

It is time to stop being a tourist and to start being a runner. Today is the day.

You are not too fat/skinny to run.
You are not too tall/short to run.
You are not too black/white/purple/polka-dotted to run.
You are not too busy to run.
I have no sympathy for you if you do not even TRY.

Running is not as intimidating as it seems and this former Chunky Monkey is living proof that anyone can do it. In fact, I am currently in the oh-so-humbling process of getting my runner mojo back. Hell, we all have to start (or re-start) somewhere. Living on the sidelines is not nearly as fun as being in the game.

Lace up your shoes.
Find a running group.
Hang out at the local running stores like a big ol’ nerd. (We all do it.)
Sign up for a race.
Get in the game.

We all need a swift kick to the rear sometimes.
You are welcome.
Now go…get running!

Running Shoe Lacing Techniques

4 Oct

When most runners purchase their running shoes from a specialty running store (You are not still shopping at those big box sporting goods stores, are you?) they are already cross-laced and ready to go. Or are they? Did you know there are different ways that you can lace your shoes to make them more comfortable or to help customize your shoes for your feet? Here are some of the more common shoe lacing patterns that help combat some common shoe issues. I tried to find the brightest shoe laces on the brightest pair of shoes I own so that you could see easier.

First, let’s cover the LOOP LACING LOCK. This technique can be used in a number of different lacing patterns to insure a tight and snug fit anywhere along the eye row of your shoe, depending on where your laces seem to be slipping.

In this example, I have put the loop lacing lock at the top of the shoe. The shoe was cross-laced as usual to the top of the shoe. To accomplish the loop lacing lock, put each lace end back into the same hole it just exited, leaving a small loop on each side.

Then thread each loose end through the loop on the opposite side of the shoe.

Pull tight to make loops smaller. Then tie shoe as usual.

PROBLEM: High Instep
Near the toe of the shoe, start lacing with the cross-lacing technique. Once you get to the middle of the shoe, thread the laces up the sides of the eye row, leaving room. Continue cross-lacing at the top of the shoe and tie at the top as usual. This will give your foot room in the midfoot area and help keep the shoe from feeling to tight across the arch of the foot.

PROBLEM: Wide Forefoot
From the bottom of the eye row, lace up the sides of the shoe. Once you get to the middle of the shoe (midfoot), start the cross-lacing technique and continue on to the top of the shoe. Tie shoe at the top, as usual. This will give your foot plenty of room to spread or allow your toes to splay while running.

PROBLEM: Narrow Foot
To help a shoe fit more snugly on a narrow foot, you might want to try adding a loop lacing lock in the middle of the eye row. To accomplish this, cross-lace the shoe as normal up to the midfoot, add a loop lacing lock, and then continue cross-lacing the shoe to the top. Tie the shoe at the top, as usual. Doing this will double the amount of laces across your midfoot, ensuring a snug fit.

PROBLEM: Heel Slipping
There are two good ways of keeping a shoe from slipping on the heel. The first way is to put a loop lacing lock at the top of the shoe (shown in the beginning of the post) and tie shoe as usual. Another way is to use a modified loop lacing lock, called a “runner’s tie.” To accomplish the runner’s tie, cross-lace the shoe until the second to last top hole and then lace up each side of the eye row. Take each loose lace end and thread it back under the side lace of the opposite side. Tie the shoe at the top, as usual.

PROBLEM: Shoe Feels Too Tight
To give your shoe an overall roomier feel, try the parallel lacing technique. To start, lace the first tow eyelets near the toe of the shoe. On one side, pull the lace up through the first eyelet and then straight across the shoe and into the eyelet directly across from it. On the other side, skip the first eyelet and pull the lace up through the second eyelet and then lace it into the eyelet straight across from it. Repeat this skipping an eyelet and lacing across pattern until the shoe is laced to the top. This lacing technique is a little tricky, so here is a link to a video that might help.

PROBLEM: Black Toenails
To accomplish this threading technique, start by threading one end of the shoe lace through the eyelet at the top of the shoe on the opposite side of your big toe. Leave enough lace length to tie the shoe. Lace the rest of the shoe lace through the eyelet closest to your big toe, creating a diagonal lace down the length of the shoe. Lace this long length of shoe lace straight across toward the outside of the shoe and then diagonally up toward the inside of the shoe. Repeat this lacing pattern until the shoe is laced to the top. Tie the shoe, as usual. Lacing the shoe this way allows the material above your big toe to be pulled up and off of the nail when the outside lace is tugged and tied tightly.

These are just a few alternative lacing techniques that may help solve some common runner’s shoe fit issues. I hope this has been helpful for you!

Have you ever tried any alternative running shoe lacing patterns? What issues with your shoe were you trying to resolve?

Running/Fitness Twitter Chats – Join The Conversation!

25 Sep

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!  Last week, Bart Yasso announced that he would be hosting another #BartChat on Twitter this week!  Woot!  Even more exciting is that he has asked me to help moderate!  Excited? You bet I am!  If you follow me on Twitter, you probably know how much I love running/fitness chats.  Since I am unable to spend hours and hours running like I used to (at least for the next few weeks!), I enjoy spending the extra time I do have connecting with runners online, trading stories, sharing experiences, and participating in Twitter chats.  People who are new to Twitter or even still learning about it often ask me about these chats, so here is the run-down (no pun intended!).

“What IS a chat?”
“So, how does it work?”
“How do I know what to say?”

What is a Twitter chat?
One of my favorite things about Twitter is the immediate interaction you get with people as passionate about your hobby/lifestyle as you are.  A Twitter chat is like one big instantaneous group text where participants can share ideas and opinions, back and forth, in real-time…all in 140 characters or less.  Twitter chats are most often hosted on a particular day and at a particular time each week, and the chat moderators/hosts are generally responsible for determining the chat topic and/or preparing questions for the participants to answer.  Once the chat gets started, participants are encouraged to interact not only with the moderator/host, but also with the other participants, offering valuable information and contributing to the topic.  The benefit of a Twitter chat is that it allows all users from all over the world to interact instantaneously, as opposed to the delayed response from other sites (like facebook status updates or forum posts).  Twitter chats help you expand your social network and help you find other people interested in the same things that you are!  As you can imagine, my favorite Twitter chats to participate in are those that revolve around running, triathlons, and general fitness.

How do I follow a Twitter chat?
In order to follow a Twitter chat, you will need to know the hashtag.  I will explain each one a bit more specifically below, but the hashtags for chats I follow are #runchat, #BartChat,#trichat, #fitblog, and #fitstudio.  There are a few different ways to follow a Twitter chat.

Personally, I use two windows logged into my account.  On my first (left) window, I have my account on the @Mentions page.  On my second (right) window, I have my Search page with the hashtag actively searching.  I do this so that if someone specifically directs a comment towards me, it will show up on the first window (where I can respond from there), while I can keep the hashtag feed rolling along in the second (right) window.  Smaller chats may not require as much back-and-forth action, but larger chats, like #runchat and #BartChat, often involve a large number of participants and move relatively quickly.

Some people find my system cumbersome, and I realize that it is not for everyone.  If this seems to be too much for you, you can use a Twitter chat platform like TweetChat, TweetGrid, HootSuite or TweetDeck to help you manage the conversation.  TweetChat is probably the simplest of the three and would be the one I would recommend the most.  It is very straight forward and is not confusing at all.

As a courtesy to my followers, I will often make a quick announcement (Tweet) that I am about to join in on a chat.  My purpose for this is two-fold.  On one hand it gives me that chance to apologize in advance if my rapid-fire tweets (conversation) junk up their timelines.  On the other hand, it also gives me the chance to encourage those who follow me to join me if they are curious about the chat or what we are talking about!  As with most things, the more the merrier and I love it when new people join in on chats!  If you are concerned that you will be Tweeting too much, your followers are always welcome to use a site like Muuter where they can literally put you and your Tweets on “mute” for a particular amount of time.  Feel free to send out a Tweet suggesting this if you feel it necessary.

Now you are ready to get chatting, right?  RIGHT!  Here are a few chats you might be interested in…

#runchat (Running)
#runchat happens on the second and fourth Sundays of every month at 8:00PM EST.  It is hosted by @RunningBecause (David) and @iRunnerBlog (Scott).  The topics encompass all things running and David and Scott encourage runners of all levels to join in the conversation!  This is a chat for runners, by runners.  These chats are often sponsored by gear companies who will offer a great prize to a random participant. FUN!  One time I won a sampler pack of GU Energy gels!  For more information about it, be sure and check out their website and facebook page!

#BartChat (Running)
#BartChat is hosted by Bart Yasso (@BartYasso), the CRO of Runner’s World. While this chat does not have a regular day/time, it is always announced well ahead of time (and often retweeted by other runners) so it is not likely you would miss it.  But just to be sure, go ahead and follow @BartYasso so you make sure you are always in the know!  Bart’s topics run the gamut but are often focused on distance race training.  Dubbed the “Mayor of Running,” Bart has run in more than 1,000 competitive races during his nearly 30 years with Runner’s World magazine.  His years of running and experience truly offer a wealth of information and many runners find his tips on training and his chats extremely helpful!

**The next #BartChat is Tuesday, September 27 at 12:00PM EST and I will be helping moderate.  So excited about this!  Be sure and join us!**

#trichat (Triathlon)
#trichat happens on alternating Sundays from #runchat, being held on the first and third Sundays of the month.  It is hosted by myself and @JoeVukson.  #trichat is geared to wannabe triathletes, newbies, and seasoned Ironman competitors alike.  Topics range from training to gear to transition tips and beyond.  This is a new chat, having only been held a few times, but the number of participants is definitely growing!  If you are a triathlete or if you are just interested in the sport of triathlon, I encourage you to come by and chat with us!  Oh, and we are also on facebook, so drop by and show some love!

#fitblog (Fitness)
#fitblog chat is held every Tuesday night at 9:00PM EST.  It was created and originally moderated by @katywidrick, but now has a different moderator/host each week.  #fitblog chat is focused on fitness and health but also sometimes covers ways to increase readership to your fitness blog or how to monetize it.  This chat begins by having each participant introduce himself/herself and list the name of his/her blog.  Having a blog is certainly not a requirement, so please do not let it deter you from joining in!  The easiest way to join this chat is to go to their official website!

#fitstudio (Fitness)
#fitstudio chat goes down on Wednesday nights at 8:30PM EST.  #fitstudio chat is brought to you by Sears @fitstudio but has different moderators/hosts each week.  These chats focus on sharing ways to stay motivating, maintain overall fitness goals, and maintain proper nutrition while on a training plan.  This is a great chat if you are having trouble staying motivated and need some encouragement to keep pursuing your fitness goals.

If you are not a Twitter chatter, I highly encourage you to give it a try.  If you are nervous or a little shy, at least check out the hashtags and see what people are talking about.  If it looks interesting to you, try lurking for a chat or two just to get comfortable.  Lots of people do that to “get their feet wet” and get the hang of how chats work.  When you are ready, hop in and start chatting!

Do you participate in Twitter chats?  Why or why not?  Do you follow any running/fitness hashtags on Twitter? 

Running Terms for Newbie Runners

31 Aug

When I first started running, I genuinely thought it was as easy as putting one foot in front of the other. And, for the most part, it is. However, once I really started getting into the sport and spending more time at running groups and in running stores (two things I highly recommend for newbie runners), I heard all of these crazy terms being tossed around. Sometimes it sounded like people were speaking a whole different language! (Fartleks, anyone? Tell me that is not one wacky word!) Not wanting to seem uncool (yes, sometimes I still care about sounding “cool”…you know you do too…) or like I had no idea what was going on, I would stand there and smile, pretending I was totally “in the know” like them.

Little by little I learned more. And yes, I finally figured out what a fartlek was. And now I love them.

That’s right, I fartlek all the time. Tell me that doesn’t make you giggle…at least a little? (Oh, come on! Is this thing ON!?) 🙂

I know there are a lot of newbie runners who find themselves in the same predicament that I once was. So, here are a few of my favorite and most helpful running terms. Hopefully it will help some of those running store conversations start making sense!

Fartlek means “speed play” in Swedish. Fartleks are a form of interval training/repeats that allows the body to vary the intensity and speed of your run exercises. The benefit to this is that your body shifts between aerobic and anaerobic stress, aiding in fat burn and helping decrease overall pace. The main difference between fartleks and traditional repeat workouts is that these are traditionally less structured, with the runner varying speed and/or intensity as he or she wishes.

The concept of negative splits is simple. This just means that you ran the second half of a race faster than the first half. This is very beneficial for maintaining good pace and can help reduce overall race time.

“Hitting the wall” is one of the most awful feelings a runner can experience. This typically occurs in distance races where all of the muscle’s glycogen levels have been used up and the body starts giving into fatigue. For me, I liken the feeling of hitting the wall to running on broken legs. Mentally, I am moving my legs at a regular pace. In reality, I look down and see the wonkiest running legs and bad form EVER. THAT is hitting the wall. This can be avoided with proper hydration, electrolyte replacement and fueling (food) before and during the race.

Hitting the wall = NO BUENO.

Overpronation is the excessive inward rolling of the foot while running. This can prevent normal toe-off pushes and, if not accounted for with proper running shoes, can cause a whole host of injuries…especially in the knees. The opposite of overpronation is supination. This is where the foot rolls outwards on impact. This condition can also be corrected with appropriate running shoes or orthopaedic insoles/supports. In addition, there are strength training exercises that can be done to help control and correct either problem.

Left Foot

DNS stands for “Did Not Start” and DNF stands for “Did Not Finish.” Neither acronym makes a happy runner when shown on a listing of official race results. You can read a little bit more about DNS and my first ever DNF in this post.

Athena and Clydesdale race divisions are a bit newer concept and are still not found in all races. The “Athena” division (or sometimes called the “Filly” division) is a racing division for women over a certain weight. For most races with this division, the weight range is any female over 150 pounds. The Clydesdale race division is a similar concept for men, with the weight range typically beginning at 200 pounds. A lot of people mistakenly think that heavier runners don’t make as fierce of competitors. You can read more about my opinion on them here.

Not this kind of Clydesdale, silly!

Your “chip time” for a race is basically your net racing time. On official results, it may not be quite the same time listed for your gun time (if your race has that). To get your chip time, a race timing system must be utilized. The timing system calculates the time from when you actually start the race (typically by crossing a starting mat) to when you actually finish a race (by crossing another mat at the finish). Large races which feature waves of runners typically use chip times to place finishers. This technology allows runners to get in pace groups for a race and not have to fight their way to the front of the line in order to get an accurate finishing time.

So, there you go! I’ll do future posts with more terms, but these should get you started.

Now get out there and start fartleking, negative splitting, and getting that overpronation under control! Happy running!

Lessons Learned from My DNF

11 Aug

In racing, there are two acronyms that make participants cringe: DNS (Did Not Start) and DNF (Did Not Finish). The DNS sometimes does not feel *quite* as bad because there are lots of reasons why a person may not start a race: unpreparedness/lack of training, injury, illness, personal emergencies, etc. Things come up. It happens. The DNF, however, leaves a sting that most racers do not easily forget. I know this feeling personally.

This is a SUCKY feeling.

I have taken a DNF in two races, and those two experiences still haunt me. The first DNF I took was in a Thanksgiving Day 5k race about 5 years ago. I had just started taking my running seriously earlier that summer and now that November had arrived, I was approaching my first running winter. Running through summer seemed fine, and, honestly, I had not thought running through cold weather would pose any problem greater than having to wear heavier clothing. How wrong I had been! This particular Thanksgiving Day was unusually cold (about 25 °F – COLD for this native Louisianan), but I did not think much of it. I was ready to race! After all, it was *only* a 5k…

The race started out fine and I was running along as usual, until I hit the 2.5 mile mark. My lungs felt like they were on FIRE. I couldn’t breathe. I started panicking…which only exasperated the problem. Before I knew it I was doubled over, hands on my knees, gasping for air. I started to have a full-on panic attack over not being able to catch my breath. I started coughing and wheezing. IT. WAS. TERRIBLE. Doing my best to pull myself together, I started walking hobbling…determined to finish. Another ¼ mile down the road, I could *see* the finish. It was RIGHT THERE. So close.

I never made it. The gasping and wheezing started up again and I knew that if I did not stop, I would pass out. The cold, thin mountain air (I was living in South Carolina at the time) was too much for me. I had to quit.

As it turns out, I was later diagnosed with cold weather induced asthma. Lesson learned…run with my inhaler when the weather dips below 40 °F and never for one second think you are invincible. 🙂

Dear inhaler, I love you. You keep me running.

In hindsight, maybe that DNF does not seem quite that bad. Medical reasons prevented me from finishing. It wasn’t like I just gave up…you know, like my second DNF. I look back on my second DNF and all it does is make me angry.

A couple of years ago, I was gearing up for my first duathlon. After running for several years, I was seeking a new challenge. Not quite ready to increase my distance to half or full marathon status, I decided a sprint duathlon (5k run/14mi bike/5k run) was the perfect next step for me. I got a bike and started training. Running had become easy for me, and it turned out that I was a natural on the bike. This duathlon thing would be a BREEZE! For weeks before the event I practiced my bricks. By the time the big day arrived, I was ready!

On race day, I got body marked and checked into the transition area early. I laid out all of my gear and went over my mental checklist of what I needed to do. A slight case of nerves set in, but overall, I was doing okay. The race started with a bang! On my first run I made GREAT time…in fact, it is still one of my fastest 5k times ever. I was moving on adrenaline and I loved every second of it. T1 went smoothly and before I knew it, I was out on the bike. Half way through the bike leg, things started going downhill (no pun intended). I was totally unprepared for this ride. My training rides had been in a *slightly* hilly area. This race was an hour north of my home…in the mountains. BIG difference. Stubborn me was determined to keep the pace that I had trained for…even if it killed me.

14 miles later I pull back in for T2. I was exhausted. I threw off my helmet, put on my running shoes and started my second run. It was awful. Completely awful. My legs completely bricked up. Every part of my body was telling me that we were done. Finished. My head was spinning and I felt like I was running on broken legs. I had practiced this a thousand times and I just could not get myself together. There was absolutely no gas left in my tank.

I quit.

And I cried. A lot.

This feels miserable.

Mad. Frustrated. Disappointed. I should have known better. There was so much that I had done wrong. I had not hydrated well enough. I had not replaced my electrolytes and calories throughout the race. Most importantly, I had ignored my inner voice that had been saying, “Pace yourself.”

Looking back, maybe I could have finished. Maybe if I had taken a second, calmed down, collected myself, stretched, eaten a snack…maybe things would have been different. But I gave up. My competitive spirit overshadowed my best judgment and I got what I deserved…a big fat DNF.

Every time I try a new race distance or new type of race, these memories play out in my head. They make me more determined to stay focused and race smart, not hard, and complete the task at hand. As long as I can help it, there will be no more DNFs for this competitor.

Have you ever taken a DNS or DNF? How did it make you feel? What did you learn from it?

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!

Run Funky – Why Its Okay to Be Gross When Running

15 Jul

Yesterday morning, when I came home from my run, I was walking around the house all proud of myself. And then I made the mistake of walking past a mirror in our living room. HOLY MOLEY! I looked like death warmed over! Did I ALWAYS look this rough after a run?? I was flushed…and sweaty…and apparently I could not even feel that massive amount of snot running down my face. (Nice visual, yes?) If this is my usual post-run appearance, God bless my husband for all those hugs and kisses after races. YOWZA! I am certainly no post-run beauty queen. (Though I do think a tiara and sash would have improved my situation.)

While running is fun and great for the body, it comes along with a whole other side that does not get talked about much…the FUNKY side.

If you are a newbie runner, here are some things you have in store for you. Don’t think for one second that you will not experience them at some point, because you will. I promise you! If you are not a newbie runner, then you have probably seen or experienced some of these things and you will know EXACTLY what I’m talking about. 🙂

Drenched hair? Check. Soaked shirt? Check.

SWEAT. I am just going to put it out there…I am one Sweaty Freaking Betty. I am not one of those girls that “glows” or “perspires.” I sweat. A lot. By the end of a run, all my hair is drenched and my ponytail is often flinging droplets as it swings side to side. If I fling sweat at you, I am sorry. Please know that it is not intentional. If you fling sweat my way, I’ll probably think, “Oh, that was gross.” but I will understand. Try your best to keep it to yourself, but if it shakes off, just try to shake that salty goodness AWAY from your fellow runners.

BLISTERS. Oh, blisters. This is one of the most common gross-outs experienced on the run. It can happen to noobs and veterans alike, repeatedly. I have most often gotten them right in the arch of my feet, typically on long runs. What starts out as a little hot spot quickly progresses into a massive, disgusting bubble o’ nastiness. I know “they” have said that you should not lance these suckers, but I HAVE to. There is no way this girl is walking around on a bubbled up foot until is pops on its own. (Blister poppage in my sock??? GRODIE!) I mean, no, thank you. For the proper way to take care of your blisters, check out this page.
*Note: I was going to post a good blister pic, but they even grossed me out too much. If your curious, just Google “runner blisters.”*

Buy it. Love it.

CHAFING. For me, chafing is something that I am experiencing a lot more recently. Back when I was heavier, when I first started running, my poor thighs rubbed together and created so much friction I swear I could almost start a campfire. As I ran more, my legs got leaner, I was running faster, and the problem seemed to subside. And then I got pregnant. Hello Thunder Thighs, I’ve missed you (not really). But, it looks like they are here to stay for a few more months, so I will make sure I keep my Bodyglide within an arms reach. Other places you might experience chafing is on the inside of your upper arm, on the inside of your shorts waistband, and around your ankle where your socks hit. For wherever you have some friction, Bodyglide the heck out of it. It will be your saving grace.

SNOT ROCKETS. I am one of the lucky ones who have allergies year-round. (Yay allergies!) In the spring and summer, it is all the plants and flowers blooming that gets me. In the fall and winter, it is the crisp air that does me in. The worst is in the dead of winter when my face gets so cold that I don’t even feel the snot running down out of my nose. It is SUPER lady-like, I promise. When on your run, sneezing, snotting, and snot rockets are bound to happen. If you have to shoot one out during a race, PLEASE, for the love of Pete, glance behind you quickly to make sure you don’t snot on a fellow runner. That’s just nasty. Or you could be gross like me and just wipe it on your sleeve. (Don’t judge, you know you have done it too.)

Photo courtesy of Adidas.

FLATULENCE AND THE RUNNER’S TROTS. Or, the poops…whatever you want to call it. In this arena, I really AM one of the lucky ones, as I do not seem to get the normal GI afflictions that affect most runners. I am very rarely nervous on race days and I am very careful about what I eat during training and on race day. If you have ever had long run or marathon training buddies, this is an aspect of their lives that you will learn (and probably talk about at some point) intimately. I am never surprised about the details of one’s personal life that get discussed on training runs. You will know exactly how far into a run your buddy will have to stop and you will know all the points along your route that have public restrooms. Don’t be ashamed to speak up and tell your mates if you have to stop; it happens to MOST runners. You will always see a long line at the port-a-potties the morning of a race. All I can say is that is one line I am glad not to be in…especially if you don’t show up to the race early. Those port-a-potties certainly don’t get any more fresh smelling as the morning goes on!

Make no mistake, they get funkier with each passing moment.

BLOODY NIPPLES. This is one that happens to the fellas more than the ladies but I have seen it a time or two in the flesh. And it is as absolutely awful as it sounds. This happens when a man’s shirt gets sweaty and the wet fabric rubs against those oh-so-sensitive areas for too many miles. If seeing a man bleed from his chest doesn’t make you run out and get your Bodyglide, I don’t know what will.

See? Even The Office understands!

VISUAL ASSAULTS. You know what I am talking about. The old guy in the “shorty short” running hot pants. The older lady in running shorts that are so freaking tight that they almost look like panties. The lady that takes her running so seriously that she runs a charity 5k in running buns. What is so difficult about running shorts (in the proper size) and a singlet? I mean, really? Just dress comfortably. And, no, there is NO convincing me that the aforementioned ensembles which I have actually seen is races is comfortable or appropriate.

I'm not trying to be mean, but those shorts on the left are just TOO short.

As a runner, what have you experienced personally or seen at races that completely grosses you out? What funky runner habits do you have?