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Staying Active in the Summer with Lupus

5 Jun

Recently, I was contacted by a friend of mine who happens to suffer from lupus. In the past couple of years, she has done a TREMENDOUS job at losing weight and pursuing and active lifestyle, resulting in a dramatic weight loss! Her story is inspirational and I think it would be awesome if she started a blog *coughHINTcough* to talk about her journey. Anyway, she has gotten into running and now she is in need of some apparel to help keep her active through the summer months.
Walk for Lupus Now
Let me first say that I had no idea what lupus was. I had heard of it, but I didn’t know much about it at all. If you want to learn more about lupus, please check out the Lupus Foundation of America. In order to find some products to help her out, I had to figure out exactly what she needed. According to the Mayo Clinic, ultraviolet light can trigger a flare, so it is recommended that people with lupus are protected with UPF 55 or greater from head to toe, every time they go outside. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants are recommended.

That’s fine and all, but have you ever tried to run outside in a Louisiana summer…in a long-sleeved shirt and long pants? YIKES.

I wanted to find some good options to help keep her running safely and staying cool through these hot months. After much research online, tips from friends, and visiting some of my favorite stores, here are some of my favorite finds. Since sun safety is smart for ALL runners, I hope that you find these suggestions helpful too!

Lululemon Run: In The Sun Long Sleeve Top
UPF 50+

Lululemon Run: In the Sun Long Sleeve Top

Photo courtesy of Lululemon

Brooks Running Women’s HVAC Synergy Long Sleeve
$30.00 (It is on clearance right now! Woot!)
UPF 40+

Brooks Women's HVAC Synergy Long Sleeve Top

Photo courtesy of Brooks Running

Smartwool Women’s Microweight Tee
UPF 30

Smartwool Microweight Tee

Photo courtesy of Smartwool

Lululemon Run: In The Sun Crop
UPF 50+

Lululemon Run: In The Sun Crop

Photo courtesy of Lululemon

REI Fleet Skapris
UPF 50+

REI Fleet Skapris

Photo courtesy of REI

Brooks Running Men’s HVAC Synergy Long Sleeve ½ Zip
$42.00 (It is on sale! Woot!)
UPF 40+

Brooks Men's HVAC Synergy Long Sleeve 1/2 Zip

Photo courtesy of Brooks Running

GoLite M’s Visa Ridge Short Sleeve Run Top
$14.99 (It is on sale! Woot!)
UPF 50+

GoLite M's Vista Ridge Short Sleeve Run Top

Photo courtesy of GoLite

Pearl Izumi Infinity In-R-Cool Short Sleeve Top
UPF 50

Pearl Izumi Infinity In-R-Cool Short Sleeve Top

Photo courtesy of Pearl Izumi

Brooks Running Men’s HVAC Synergy Shorts
UPF 40+

Brooks Men's HVAC Synergy Shorts

Photo courtesy of Brooks Running

Pearl Izumi Maverick 2 In 1 Shorts
UPF 50

Pearl Izumi Maverick 2 In 1 Shorts

Photo courtesy of Pearl Izumi

Pearl Izumi Sun Sleeves
UPF 40

Pearl Izumi Sun Sleeves

Photo courtesy of Pearl Izumi

CEP Arm Cooler Sleeves
UPF 50+

CEP Compression Arm Coolers

Photo courtesy of CEP Compression

Sun Guard
Take your existing running clothes and treat them yourself with Sun Guard! A single treatment washes UPF 30 sun protection into everyday clothes. The protection lasts through 20 future washings too! I am not sure if additional treatments boost the UPF coverage even higher, but it might be worth looking into!

Sun Guard Sun Protection

Photo courtesy of Sun Guard

My favorite sunscreen EVER is Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 55. However, a friend who’s mother has lupus said her dermatologist recommended Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 100+. I was unable to find this at my local pharmacy. With SPF coverage that high, it may require special ordering if you cannot find it in your area.

Neutrogena UltraSheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 100+

Photo courtesy of Neutrogena

Regarding sunscreen lotions, be sure and apply, apply, APPLY. And then re-apply. The FDA has recently banned sunscreen manufacturers from advertising and packaging using the words “waterproof” and “sweatproof,” as technically, no such product actually exists. So if you are a super sweater like me, don’t rely on that “sweatproof” label…re-apply anyway.

Whether you suffer with lupus or you are just someone that wants to protect your skin in the summertime, I hope you find these products helpful! Stay safe in the sun!

Racing Strategy: Running Tangents

12 Oct

Last weekend’s Gulf Coast Half Marathon really was a ton a fun and I had a great time volunteering! Watching all of my friends finish and being able to cheer them on was pretty special and it was fun to be on the “other side” for once. Many race participants seemed to really love the course and have a blast but there were a few participants who seemed to be upset by the readings on their GPS running watches. I heard a few complaints of runners swearing they ran more than the 13.1 miles and saying how their time would have been better (possibly even set a PR) had they not run the extra little bit of mileage.

I know this course was certified, so the first thing I thought of is…they are not running the tangents…which means they actually DID run more than 13.1 miles. Too bad those 13.1 stickers don’t have a little + sign after them, right? In a race, if you are not running the tangents, you are not racing as efficiently as possible.

The easiest way to explain “running the tangents” is this…running the tangents allows a racer to run the shortest legal distance in a race. This is the fastest and most efficient way to get from the start line to the finish line, and the easiest way to set a PR.

For those of you who have not been to geometry class in a while, a tangent is a straight line that is perpendicular to a curve. When a race course is measured and certified, it is done so from tangent to tangent and by running from point-to-point, you run the measured (and certified) distance. Any variation from running the “tangent route” will add mileage to your race route. Sometimes this variation adds only fractional mileage, but if you are running every curve, you may add up to a quarter of a mile or more to your race! Seriously! Before learning about running tangents, this happened to me and I would get so frustrated.

Here is how running the tangents works…

In races, most runners end up following the solid blue through curves in the race course. However, the dashed line represents the most efficient way to navigate the course. While it may not look like much of a difference, over a full or half marathon race course, this mileage can add up.

Obviously, running the tangent is the smartest and most efficient way to race a course. But, as you can see, it does involve crossing the street from side to side. If you are a middle of the pack racer or you race close to others, be sure to be aware of runners near you when changing directions. You certainly would not want to take out another runner in your attempt to set a PR.

In addition, running tangents means looking ahead. Once you hit a curve in the course, keep your eyes focused in front of you, looking for the next one. This will allow you adjust your running route and stay prepared for what is ahead of you. When heading into a large curve where you are not able to see the next curve or turn, the best rule of thumb to follow is to run as close to the inside edge as possible.

The only time not running to the immediate inside of a curve is when you are running a course with a hair-pin turn. In this situation, making a slightly wider turn by sweeping the turn can be faster. (See image below.) Keep in mind that in this situation, making a wider turn may add a very VERY minute amount of mileage, but in the end, it will help you maintain efficiency. And in a race, efficiency is the KEY.

Overall, by making fewer large curves and running the tangents, you essentially make the race course a straight as possible. By taking the most direct route from start to finish, you are more likely to maintain your pace and momentum. There is no perfect way to run the tangents. The goal is to find out what works best for you in getting through the race course’s fastest route, as quickly as possible.

Have you ever heard of running tangents before? Do YOU run the tangents?

Irrational Running Fears

22 Sep


That is the sound of my alarm going off at 5:00AM this morning…on a “vacation day.” Why? To go run, of course! I shuffled my way into the bathroom, pulled on my running clothes and got ready to pound the pavement. Then I realized how DARK it was outside…and foggy. I mean, it was like a horror movie just waiting to happen! Maybe now that I am so far along, much less stable on my feet, and obviously slower, the thought of being approached by a stranger on the roads scares me to death! I am not normally a scaredy cat, but the thought of running out on the road all alone was such a turn-off today that I opted to head to the gym instead.

Oh, and if you are wondering what a human school bus looks like, here you go. Let the giggling commence…

On the way to the gym, I let my mind wander. That’s what happens early in the morning when I am still trying to “wake my brain up.” Oh, and the ADHD certainly does nothing to help keep me on one train of thought. Anyway, I started thinking about all the other things that I fear about running alone. Granted, these fears are not so massive that they actually keep me from running, but they do cross my mind from time to time when I am out pounding the pavement on my own.

What if I get pooped on by a bird?
Okay, so this one is kind of funny. I admit that photos of other people getting pooped on while they are running makes me double-over in laughter, but the thought of it happening to me? No, thank you! I hear that it is supposed to be good luck or something insanely absurd like that. If that is the case, then I want to be the unluckiest runner EVER. We do not have a lot of them here, but I hear pigeons are the WORST offenders. When traveling for work, if I have to run in downtown areas, I will go out of my way to avoid groups of pigeons in city squares. I know they have it out for me. They are like dogs, I know they can SMELL my fear. Those beady little pigeon eyes…

I KNEW they studied up on this!

What if I see a dead body?
I know that I watch WAY too much CSI. Seriously though, art imitates life and runners really DO find dead bodies…probably even more often than we hear about! I have this insane fear that while running past wooded areas or alleys that I will look over and see some bloody bloated body that has been there for who knows how long. You know what is worse? I even look in the woods and alleys to make SURE there are no dead bodies in there. I mean, I do not go into a full-on crime scene investigation, but I definitely keep my eyes in that direction…you know, just in case. When I am running in sort of remote areas, I will even think to myself, “You know what? That seems like a good place to hide a dead body. I would put money on it that there is one in there.” I mean, who does that!? I am a weirdo and I have really got to give it a rest with the Law & Order marathons.

What if I get bitten on the butt by a goose?
This sounds totally absurd, but this one has actually happened to me! At the LSU lakes, geese are everywhere. One time when I was in college, I was running with a friend of mine. As we approached this large gaggle of our feathery friends, he casually said something like, “Wouldn’t it be funny if those geese tried to chase as we ran by?” I squinted my eyes, cocked my head to the side and gave him that look that said, “Why in the heck would you say something like that?? Don’t you know you just WILLED it to happen!?” My friend’s comment must have done some Jedi mind trick on the geese because as soon as we ran passed them, here they came…half running and half flying. Keep in mind that in light of his comment, I passed the geese on the far side of the street, as far away from them as I could get. Apparently, my chubby (at the time) little runner legs could not out-run the big, hissing white and gray monster with wings that was in the lead. I tried my best to keep hauling butt while still looking behind me. All of a sudden I realized that my friend had ditched me! His sprint was cheetah-like and when I turned my head to look forward, I saw that he was a good half a mile ahead of me already! As I mentally cursed him for bringing this whole situation upon me, I felt it. A big, hard goose beak right below my left butt cheek. I do not think I have ever yelped so loud in my whole life! I kept running and running and running, finally catching up to my friend. The geese must have gotten tired of chasing me because I realized I no longer heard them behind me. As soon as I stopped, I could FEEL the welp on the back of my thigh. I could not twist around to see it, but I didn’t need to. I pulled up the leg of my shorts to let my friend see and his eyes nearly bugged out of his head. There was already a bruise nearly the size of a softball forming. Needless to say, I hobbled back to my car (the LONG way around the lake, obviously)…not saying a single word to my friend the rest of the time. Stupid friend and his stupid big mouth.

Geese are the devil!

When it comes to running, most people fear things like not finishing or tripping and falling. Not this girl. In regards to the tripping and falling, I guess I have just done that one enough to have gotten over it. Let’s just say that not a whole lot embarrasses me these days. Looking back on it, my fears seems sort of ridiculous, but it is what it is. Maybe one day I will get over them, but until then…don’t think I won’t keep one eyeball looking out for that dead body.

What are YOU afraid of when it comes to running, training, and/or racing? Do YOU feel like your fears are justified or do you think you should find some way to get over them?

I Ran on the Moon – My Anti-Gravity Running Experience

18 Aug

Okay, so while I didn’t *technically* run on the moon, I did get to experience anti-gravity running on an Alter G treadmill. There isn’t a whole lot in life that leaves me truly speechless, but after getting off this treadmill, all I could do was smile. I felt like I was back in the game…even if that feeling was only temporary.

The pants you wear feel like a wetsuit!

A couple of evenings ago, after a long conversation with my husband, I conceded to start cutting back on my outdoor runs. At almost 29 weeks pregnant, I am thankful for the time that I have been able to run outside, but it is just getting to hard. My options? The treadmill at the gym (which my husband found to be an acceptable alternative since the gym at least has air conditioner) or only walking outside. For me, walking is an almost painful activity. While not physically painful, the slow pace is mentally painful. I so badly want to be at full stride and going FAST!

Getting the instructions! It even goes in REVERSE!

“Fast” is something I have not felt in MONTHS…until last night. To be able to supplement my body weight and remember what my body felt like at my pre-pregnancy weight was AMAZING. The pressure on my ankles, calves, and knees was totally gone. The best part was the ease in pelvic pressure from the baby belly. I can’t even begin to tell you how this has improved my attitude about running through the rest of my pregnancy. To have that brief reminder of how easily my body moved only months ago was just the encouragement I need and will certainly motivate me to work hard post-baby to get my training body back. The Alter G anti-gravity treadmill is officially a game changer for me.

I am RUNNING and it feels so GOOD!

Before my anti-gravity experience, I literally could not fathom how my running idols elite runners like Kara Goucher and Paula Radcliffe were able to run, no TRAIN, throughout their pregnancies. (You know, other than the fact that they are super humans.) After hearing that they used this equipment, I can definitely see how it helps elites train through pregnancies and recover from all types of injuries.

The advantages of the Alter G extend WAY beyond just helping this mama-to-be runner prolong her running routine. In addition to all of the medical applications of the anti-gravity treadmill, the Alter G is having a MAJOR impact in the sports industry.

According to their website, the Alter G can help with the following:
• lower body injury and surgery rehabilitation
• aerobic conditioning
• weight control and reduction
• sport specific conditioning programs
• neurological retraining
• overspeed training
• interval training
• lateral movement training
• backwards running drills up to 10mp in reverse
• hill training at up to 15% incline

This is the face of one HAPPY (and very pregnant) runner!

The biggest benefit for me personally is that it helps maximize fitness retention during sports rehabilitation, or, in my case, during pregnancy. Using the Alter G, I will be able to match the aerobic intensity of my previous workouts while lowering the impact on my body by using a combination of adjustable variables (weight – 100% to 20% supplementation, speed – up to 18mph, and incline – up to 15%). I have been so worried that all of the training I had done before getting pregnant would be GONE. Running on the Alter G as close to my delivery date as I can will only help me get back to my normal running routine (and marathon training!) as fast as possible.

As of yesterday, I had resigned myself to walking…but not anymore. My attitude and happiness towards running have been restored and I am completely positive about adding this new tool to my workouts. There is a new plan in effect as of right now!

Monday: 30-minute Alter G Anti-Gravity Treadmill
Tuesday: Happy’s Running Club
Wednesday: Yoga, slow bike ride, or rest
Thursday: 30-minute Alter G Anti-Gravity Treadmill
Friday: Walk around the neighborhood
Saturday: Walk around the neighborhood
Sunday: Rest

This is a schedule I think I can live with. I will still be running three times per week (HALLELUJAH!) and walking once or twice.

Over the years I have learned that running is more than the physical. The mental and emotional benefits that I get from running outweigh any amount of fat burned or inches lost. I am a firm believer that running keeps me sane and grounded. And thanks to the Alter G, I can look and FEEL like this after running again…

Four thumbs up from me and Baby Key!

Now I just need about $50,000 so I can get one of these at home. Any takers??? No? Okay, well…any suggestions…bake sale? Garage sale? 🙂
Have YOU ever tried an anti-gravity treadmill? Are you interested in them?

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?