Sunday, September 25, 2011

Geek Girl and Her Nemesis

I overcame a wall yesterday, a big looming wall that seemed to mock me each time I approached it. Thirteen miles has been my nemesis this month. I have attempted it twice and failed miserably both times. The first time it was because I was attempting it too early in my training and the second time was because I was dangerously close to burnout. This week I set out with a mission, I would end my week with a thirteen mile run if it killed me! Ok not killed me, but maybe if it ran me into the ground… or something.

I set out more than a little anxious, the last two attempts flashing through my mind, but around mile two I was starting to get into my flow. I was feeling good and having a hard time keeping my pace under control. Around mile seven I reached LingGeek's neighborhood and I got a surge of excitement. When I started my marathon training I’d told her that “One day, one day I’ll be running out to your house.” Back then, one day had seemed so distant, like a dream you hope to one day accomplish but you’re never sure you will. In that moment, it really sunk in how far I had come. I was doing it, I had done it! I wanted to shout, I wanted to sing, and instead I just smiled widely and greeted passer-byers a little more vigorously. I road the wave all the way home, breaking the thirteen mile wall and accomplishing 13.67 miles for a new PR.

Which brings me to another running rule I have, celebrate each new accomplishment. If you focus too much on the big picture, you miss the journey. Every new PR, time or distance, deserves a victory dance. Don’t compare your accomplishments to others. So what if Mary Sue has been running as long as you and has already run three marathons, she’s not you. Her journey was different and just as precious, but this is your experience and you only get to live it once. Be the running freak that smiles through each mile and waves at each person you pass, throw your arms in the air, or bust out a move when you’re done. If you don’t make running fun, what’s the point in doing it?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Life of a Runner

So I wake up this morning, climb out of bed (and I mean climb, it’s quite a tall bed for a short girl like me), put my feet on the ground, take a step and… oh no it didn’t! My left knee was sore as all get out! Somewhere between raving about what a great run I had and counting sheep last night my knee decided to play a trick on me.

So grumbling, I took some ibuprofen, grabbed an ice pack from the fridge and balanced my bowl of cereal while letting the offending knee get nice and cold. Finished, limped to my room and let it freeze a little longer while I read the Good Book. It still wasn’t happy with me, so I took a fresh ice pack to work.

While typing away, I rotated the ice pack on and off. My office mate came in about an hour later and I did my best to hide the evidence. He asked me how my run went (I’d eagerly told him yesterday how I’d been looking forward to it) and I raved about how great it was. He asked me how my knees were holding up! I swear, people can read my mind! I just mumbled that they were doing fine. Don’t give me that, they had been doing just fine.

A couple hours later, my email box tells me I have a message. It’s from the boss of the bosses. He’s the one that recruited me for the relay team (Santa Barbara marathon in November). He proudly announces that he’s running 8:42 a mile. I sigh in frustration. I’m going to be the youngest person on the team doing the shortest leg and going the slowest! What’s a geek girl to do!?!

The moral of the story is... if you decide to take up the wonderful sport of running, you will have days like this. You'll have awesome runs followed by days of aches and pains. No matter what you do and how much you prepare and listen to your body, it will still happen. Don't be frustrated, it's natural. Sometimes it's just your body's way of telling you that you did a good job or it's telling you that you need to back off. Learning to tell the difference is key to staying healthy.

P.S. The knee is feeling a lot better this evening ;)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Girl with the Plan

Yay, I had a great eight miler today at a nice easy pace. I couldn’t have been more in the groove! The weather was wonderful and everyone I passed either smiled or waved. It was just one of those runs that I really treasure.

So where am I at and what are my goals? I am currently training for the Arizona Rock’n’Roll marathon which will be my very first! I'm a marathon virgin. I started running again this year in February and got the crazy idea in my head that I wanted to do a marathon, so I started training in May. Since that time, I also decided to do a half marathon in December (good practice for the full). I’m a big fan of themed runs, so the one in December is the Santa to the Sea in Oxnard California.

A few weeks ago I was offered a spot on my company’s relay team for the Santa Barbara marathon and I jumped at the chance to join in on the fun. Since then, I’ve come to my senses and realized I need to do some speed work (I don’t want to let the team down!), so I’ve just added some fartleks and tempo runs to my schedule. I probably bit off more than I can chew, but I’ll love every minute of it.

I currently run four days a week. I was doing five days a week when I first started, but my body was telling me it was too much, so I cut it back and I have really benefited from the change. Monday is my tempo run or fartleks. I go 3 to 4.5 miles on Monday, depending on how I’m feeling that day. Tuesday is a rest day. Sometimes I’ll throw in 30 to 45 minutes on the bike. Wednesday is one of my long days. Today (Wednesday) I went just over 8 miles and I try to increase the distance around a quarter to half a mile each week. It’s usually an easy pace, similar to what I’m aiming to do in the marathon. Thursday is another rest day with possibly some bike. Friday is an easy three miles and Saturday is my second long day. Unlike Wednesday, Saturday is an interval run. I run eights and twos. So I run eight minutes, walk two minutes, run eight, walk two, etc. I’ve built up to 12 miles on my Saturday run and I try to increase about 3/4's of a mile each week. Sunday is a total rest day, nothing extra thrown in (most of the time). My goal is to have every third to fourth week be an easy week to help keep me from overtraining, but sometimes I get too eager for my own good and don’t take the rest.

So far, my training has been going pretty good. The only problems I run into (no pun intended) is when I try to push myself too far too fast or smash my toe in the door. Hopefully I can keep myself under control and make it to the marathon without anymore mishaps!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Watch Out for Toes

Well, I made another newbie mistake this week. I thought I had just about made all the silly mistakes a new runner could make, but apparently I was wrong. I now have a new rule to add to my list: “Take care of your feet”.

Let me explain what happened. After an easy 5k on Tuesday, I was hanging around the house walking barefoot… can you see where this is going? I went to take out the trash and somehow in the most uncoordinated or as my best friend says “very talented” way, I managed to catch my middle toe in the door, smashing it and ripping up the toenail. It was a bizarre moment of shock and searing pain. Blood was dripping everywhere and all I could do was pray my toe wasn’t broken. I thought for sure I was going to find a bone sticking out of my skin with how much blood and pain there was, but it was all because of the displaced toenail (I now understand why ripping up nails is used as a means of torture).

I ended up having to take two runs off, explain a very embarrassing story multiple times and I’ve got a lovely bloody spot on my socks when I do run, but thankfully it’s not broken and I wasn’t benched for longer. So the moral of the story is, when you are in training, don’t walk around barefoot and it’s probably best to leave the flip flops in the closet for awhile.

On a side note, how about that Doctor Who episode yesterday?!?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Birthday Girl

My birthday was last week and thanks to my wonderful parents I got a new pair of running shoes. I of course already knew I was getting them, since I went to Road Runner Sports with them and tried them on. I had headed to the store expecting to get either the Asics Cumulus 13 or the K-SWISS KEAHOU II and ended up walking out with the Nike Vomero+ 6. I personally tend to stay away from Nike, not for any particular reason, but I haven’t had much luck with them. Nathan, the shoe salesman talked me into trying on the Vomero and I loved them the second I put them on. I jogged around the store twice, smiling the whole time.  So far, I’ve done three runs in them, two short ones and one long and they’ve been great. I’ll do a more thorough review when I’ve had them a little longer, but so far I give them two thumbs up.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Girl and Her Shoes

I’ll be honest, I love shoes, but really, what female doesn’t?!? Which leads me to the first and what I believe is one of the most important elements a newbie needs to know, the shoes you run in matter. Shoes can make or break a new runner.

When I first started running, I made the mistake that many new female runners make, I went to the shoes section at the local big sports equipment store, went to the running section and picked out the cutest pair of running shoes I saw. I tried them on, they felt great and I walked out the door with a new pair of shoes (they were pink). I spent my first two weeks of running in those shoes and honestly, they felt fine, but the rest of my body didn’t. I knew there would be some discomfort from starting a new physical activity, but I was really hurting. My back hurt, my knees hurt, my ankles hurt and even my neck hurt. The only thing that didn’t hurt was my feet. I called my sister-in-law and she declared it was my shoes. I didn’t believe her. The next time I visited, she took a look at my running form and the wear on my everyday shoes and announced that I underpronate. She recommended the Asics Cumulus to me.

To make a long story short, I ran in Asics Cumulus 11 till they needed to be replaced and then I got Asics Cumulus 12. They were a great shoe for me.

So if you don’t happen to have an awesome sister-in-law that used to sell shoes and is now a physical therapist, then I suggest you go to your local running specialty store. Many running specialty stores will have treadmills that you can run on and get your form examined by trained employees. The employees are usually more than happy to help newbies find the right type of shoe and get them off to a good positive start.

Sorry girls, the shoes that work for you aren’t always going to be the cute ones.  

Monday, September 5, 2011

How it all began

My running journey began in the fall of 2009. I was a young naive thing stressed from too much homework and not enough downtime. I decided to try my hand at couch to 5k after hearing about it from a friend. There wasn’t much love in the beginning, but it did help me unwind. The love affair didn’t start till much, much later.

I’ve made just about every mistake a newbie could and most of them I have learned from. I love to discuss running and encourage others to join in on the fun. I decided to start this blog after receiving multiple emails asking for advice. So we’ll see how this goes.