i ♥ pajamas

i think it’s officially that time of the year- when my running clothes and my pajamas are battling for my attention. as you can see, georgia’s pajamas won their battle 🙂

i really hate cold weather. it’s not one of these love hate relationships many people seem to have. it’s just a plain old hate hate. i hate being cold. i hate having to bundle up. don’t get me wrong, i love getting to wear jeans and not be hot and i’m all about some new boots (as the zappos box in my den will tell you) but can’t it just stay in the 70’s? that’s plenty cold for me.

anyway, being a runner, i have had to get used to being out in the cold. i really think it’s an acquired skill to really figure out how to do it and not hate it but, believe it or not, it’s doable.

so, some things to remember:
*dress in layers- you’re going to warm up once you get started so always wear layers that you can strip off; *dress as if it’s 10 – 20 degrees warmer- this is a fairly big range but you’ll have to play with it to see what works for you- some people get warmer than others when they run;
*remember that heat escapes from your head so you may want to wear a hat or ear warmers- this is just a preference. i tend to prefer an ear band but many others like hats. i just find that they can be annoying with ponytails.
*baby your lungs if they’re bothering you- when it gets really cold, you may feel a burning in your lungs. no, you are not dying! this is just cold air entering your warm lungs so it will burn. if this bothers you wear a scarf or something you can put over your mouth until you warm up.
*remember, the cold will not kill you. it will make you a tougher runner!

in the mornings, when your pajamas are battling with your running clothes, give your running clothes a little boost and let them win. you’ll be glad you did.

Am i too sick to run?

i originally posted this blog in february when we were training for Nashville. it looks like it’s that time again when we need a little refresher on running through sickness…

Unfortunately we’re in that time of year in which everyone is sick. Germs are spreading rapidly and it seems like anyone who even thinks about “sick” ends up sick. Do you or do you not run?

The general rule of thumb for runners is that you can work out if your illness is above the neck- head cold, runny nose, etc- UNLESS you have a fever. If your illness is below the neck (chest cold, bronchial infection, etc), it may be best to get some rest. Keep in mind, this is the general rule of thumb. You should also follow your instincts and if you’re on the fence, it may not hurt you to do your workout but keep it slow and take walk and water breaks when necessary.

It seems that running with a head cold–as long as you don’t push beyond accustomed workouts–is beneficial in maintaining fitness and psychological well-being. Sometimes a little fresh air is all we need to start feeling better.

If you are really sick (“below the neck sick”) and decide to take time off from running, do it right. Drink lots of fluids and ease back into your workouts. You can come back to running once you’re feeling better or once your fever is gone, but ease back into it. You shouldn’t do your toughest workouts until you’re feeling stronger.

i Practice what i Preach

ever since i’ve been a personal trainer, i have been told, by my clients, that they like that i am “real.” i don’t believe in dieting; i believe in healthy eating with some non-healthy things thrown in occasionally. i am addicted to chocolate; i make no apology for this- i have chocolate every day. i live for pizza and mexican food; i really believe that pizza the night before a run is perfect. i wish i weighed 5 pounds less but i don’t let it keep me up at night; if i stopped eating chocolate every night this may not be an issue but i’m not willing to give that up. i’ll even negotiate workouts with them- squats instead of lunges; 10 reps instead of 15. i truly believe that any amount of exercise is better than none and i’m ok if you are tired and want to cheat a little on your pushups.

now, with that being said, i am a stickler when it comes to training. i really believe that the success to running a race is the amount of dedication you put into your training. that doesn’t just mean whether or not you did the runs but how you did them. i have been known to miss a run or two- not many though! i will run when i’m tired or even when i’m sore. why? mostly because i know i need to but also because i know that once i’m out there, i will never regret being out there but when i’m at home, skipping a run, i’m certain to regret that later.

i’ve really been on everyone lately about fueling on the long runs and slowing down on the long runs. trust me, i know how difficult it is to eat and drink when you’re running. i also know how much it sucks to slow down so much that you feel like you could walk faster. i also know the benefits to both of these and decided to REALLY put them into play yesterday for my 20 mile run. i’ll be honest, i always slow down a little on long runs, but not nearly enough and i always fuel on long runs, but not nearly enough. (now remember, your slow pace on your long run days is not indicative of your pace on race day- you will be able to speed up on race day because of your tempo and speed runs AND because you haven’t exhausted your legs on your long runs).

let me tell you about my run yesterday! some background on me- a “comfortable” pace for me is around a 10 minute mile or a little quicker (side note- it used to be a 10:45 or slower until i started incorporating speed drills into my workouts).
so, we started out at about an 11:30 mile. it felt slow but i was able to talk without gasping for breath at all and eventually just eased into it. as we would speed up, we just did a quick body check (roll shoulders down your back, make sure you’re not hunched forward, and slow your feet) and slowed back down.
MILE 2 – 4, i sipped on Accelerade (only sports drink i have found with a whey protein)- just little sips to wet my palate.
MILE 4- ate 2 gu chomps (1/2 serving). washed these down with water- couple of sips every few minutes. MILE 4.5 – ate 2 more gu chomps and washed these down with water. continued to drink every 10 minutes- water plus a sip of Accelerade at around mile 6.5.
MILE 7- 2 more gu chomps washed down with water. water every 10 minutes or so.
MILE 9- 2 more gu chomps (waited a little long for these; oh well). follow with water every 10 minutes
MILE 11-12- 1 bag of sports beans (1 serving) with water
water and Accelerade alternating every 10 – 15 minutes
MILE 15- 1/2 banana (thanks jennifer for leaving those in the bushes for us!); sips of water
MILE 18-19- 1 bag sports beans with sips of water

believe it or not, i actually felt great. this was one of my best runs so far for this training season. i fueled properly and never went faster than an 11:30 mile. yes, i felt like i was too slow at times but i also never felt fatigued and NEVER, not even once, thought that i wouldn’t finish it! yes, i want to run the marathon faster than this but, you know what, if i don’t, who really cares?! i’m not out there to win. i’m out there for the experience.

i went home, took an ice bath, and headed down to Ernestine and Hazels for a burger and beer. pretty good for 20 miles! gasp! it does work 😉

What about me?!

Georgia was beginning to notice that none of the recent blog posts have been about her so i knew i needed to take care of that right away.

We’re almost 3 weeks post op (left knee) and almost 10 weeks post op (right knee). fortunately she seems to be handling this second surgery a little better than the first one. she’s still confined to the pen; for the next 3 months actually. however, we also have a mattress in the den floor that she is allowed to lay on if one of us is on there with her. she’s loving that!

We were worried about leaving her while we went to LA. she’s doing well but it’s a lot to ask of someone- medicine, going out with a sling, sleeping on a mattress on the floor! luckily my mom stayed with her which georgia loved. she may even be more spoiled than she was when we left.

It’s hard not to love her when she’s so sweet and so funny…..and when she has 2 broken legs. poor little thing!

so, we have a follow up appointment in 3 weeks and then we should get the ok to allow her to go on walks and spend some time outside of her pen. it’s been a long 10 weeks but she’s worth it 🙂

Let’s talk specifics

i’ve had a lot of people ask me about the specifics of fueling during a run- exactly what do i do? well, whether or not i end up doing what i’m supposed to, i always have a plan.

it’s always good to have a plan. you’re more likely to do what you’re supposed to do if you have it thought out, especially if it’s a long run or race. the last thing you want to do is worry about when or if you should eat or drink. when keith did his first 70.3 (half ironman), i wrote his fueling schedule on his arm in permanent marker. this worked well because it was already thought out and he was able to follow along rather than stress about what he should be doing.

obviously, everyone is different and every day is different so you always have to listen to your body. with that being said, have a game plan and tweak it as necessary.

if i’m running 6 miles or less, i typically don’t do anything for fueling- water or food. this may not work for everyone though. i drink water and only water all of the time so i stay pretty hydrated. my body is able to work pretty hard for about an hour before needing anything specific. do not let this keep you from drinking water though. if you think you need it on shorter runs, then, by all means, drink it.

let’s talk specific runs. i’ll give you some scenarios that work for me. REMEMBER, we’re all different so don’t take this as law but try to learn from it and figure out your rhyme or reason for fueling on runs.

9 miles: i will drink a sip or 2 of water every 10 minutes, starting at the first 10 minute mark. one good gulp is usually enough to wet your palate, cool your body, and not swish around. knowing that i will be running for 90 minutes or so, i will start eating something around mile 4. i usually take a mile to eat a full serving of whatever it is (for me, either gu chomps or sport beans). so, by mile 5, i’ve had continuous fluid and approximately 90 – 100 calories. keep in mind, you’ll want between 100 and 250 calories per hour- this will depend on your size and your ability to burn calories. i will continue to sip every 10 minutes. around mile 7 or 7.5 i will have another serving or 1/2 serving of either chomps or beans.

* look at the serving sizes on your gu, beans, chomps, etc- it may not be 1 serving per item (chomps are 2 servings per bag)
* if you’re running with a sports drink, follow the same rules as far as hydration HOWEVER, you will want to wash down any sports gels, etc with water. the carb mixture of the sports drink along with the sports gels is typically too much for the body to properly absorb. if you’re running with sports drinks during the race, use the water stations to get water to wash down your sports gels.

half marathon: drink water every 10 minutes; gu chomps (2=1/2 serving) at mile 4 and 2 (1/2 serving) at mile 5. mile 8 – 9 sports beans, mile 11- gu chomps – 1/2 – 1 serving, depending on how i feel
* this is only 280 calories for the entire 13 miles- approximately 1300 calories burned
* you can take in more than this but i would NOT take in less

try to play with a schedule like this on your next few long runs to see how you feel. you will eventually find what works for you.

the most important thing for you to remember is FUEL YOUR BODY BEFORE IT NEEDS IT! no, you don’t need fuel at mile 4 but you DO need it at mile 6 (on longer runs) so you will need to take it and give your body time to process it. if you wait until you are hungry, thirsty, or fatigued to try to do something about it, you have waited too long. it is almost impossible to make up the deficits caused by improper fueling.

questions?! what works for you?

Never say never

i have always said i would never, ever, ever, ever wear a fuel belt for running. they’re stupid looking. i will never run enough that i lose function of my hands and lose the ability to hold a water bottle. i’m just cooler than that 😉

well, i broke down and bought one. ugh. i really hate it when i prove myself wrong. i’m pretty stubborn and usually if i say i will never do something, i mean it. so, what made me give in?

i’ve had to teach myself to run with food, water, and gadgets over the past few years. when i first started running, i had running shoes, shorts, and some cotton t-shirts. i’ve progressed to technical t’s, running skirts, special insoles for my shoes, ipod, nike plus, race belt, handheld water bottle, and a road id. geez. that’s a lot of stuff to just go for a run!

anyway, what made me give in? i had my 20 oz handheld for my long run on saturday. it really didn’t bother me at first but once i started to get tired, i noticed that i was passing it from hand to hand- not good because this causes you to do a cross-over body arm swing which is not good form. i was getting more and more irritated with holding it as the mileage increased. by mile 14, i was tempted to just throw it in the bushes, or even better, at the back of the next person who passed me! so, obviously i knew i needed to do something about it. i don’t think it’s very good sportsmanship if i throw my water bottle at someone?

so, i went to the store and tried on several models. bounced up and down in the store to prove my concern that, yes, they’re going to bounce up and down. i bought it anyway. we’ll see. georgia tried it out for me first. she’s certain she’s not a fan. i’ll let you know what i think after my run tomorrow.

Frigid waters

i’ve been a little worried about having taken so much time off of running due to my stress fracture to just jump back in and continue on with my marathon training. i’ve spent all this time trying to recover from an injury and am really hoping to not cause another one by upping my mileage so quickly.

i’ve been pretty sore after all of my runs since starting back. it’s pretty unusual for me to get so sore and it’s had me a little concerned. what to do about it? well, keith has been following this one triathlete’s blog who just swears by ice baths to help her recover. of course i’ve known about ice baths forever but never, in a million years, thought i would ever need to do one. i have always equated ice baths with athletes. i have never considered myself an athlete so i never thought i would do one. i also never thought i would train to run a marathon- this was NOT something that was on my bucket list! well, suddenly i’m training for a marathon and with the extreme increase in my mileage, extreme measures must be taken!

so, what’s the point of ice baths? cryotherapy (aka cold therapy) constricts blood vessels and decreases metabolic activity, which reduces swelling and tissue breakdown. Once the skin is no longer in contact with the cold source, the underlying tissues warm up, causing a return of faster blood flow, which helps return the byproducts of cellular breakdown to the lymph system for efficient recycling by the body. “Ice baths don’t only suppress inflammation, but help to flush harmful metabolic debris out of your muscles,” says David Terry, M.D., an ultrarunner who has finished both the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run and the Wasatch Front 100-Mile Endurance Run 10 consecutive times.

i don’t know if you can tell from the picture above but they’re not fun! as soon as i got home from my long run, i headed to the bath. i started with a tub of cold water up to my hips and keith added a bucket of ice. fortunately, the ice melts pretty quickly; i think this makes it seem less cold when you aren’t actually staring at the ice. i read some tips on how to make it more tolerable- sweatshirt, hat, warm tea, etc. i thought this probably wouldn’t make that much of a difference but tried anyway. the bike shorts definitely helped the sitting in the cold water a little less awful. the sweatshirt kept my upper body warm which meant i could breathe rather than just sit and hold my breath. the hat really helped to keep some heat in my body. i thought about getting some hot chocolate but that would’ve meant i couldn’t clutch the sides of the tub! after all the preparations, i lasted about 11 minutes. anything between 10 and 20 minutes is pretty good.

you could use ice packs but cold water immersion produces a greater and longer lasting change in deep tissues and is a more efficient way of cooling large muscle groups at once. i’m tired of the days of coming home and having to get numerous ice packs out and sitting on the couch and freezing. this is certainly more miserable but at least it’s a quick misery! i’m feeling pretty good after a grueling 14 mile run so i’m thinking i owe some of that to my ice bath.

try one after your next long run and let me know what you think 🙂