i am a runner…

For various reasons i used to have a hard time calling myself a runner. I was always afraid that if i called myself a runner, someone would question it. How fast can you go? How far can you go. Well, after years of that ridiculous insecurity, i am finally comfortable calling myself a runner. How do you stay in shape? I run. What do you do in your spare time? I run. What’s your favorite “hobby”? Running. I am a runner.

So, why, if i am a runner, am i not allowed to run? Unfortunately, i did not give my stress fracture enough time to heal so even though i moved 10 steps forward since August, i’ve now moved 5 steps backwards since December. I met with my Ortho this morning to discuss why i’m not healing and if there are possibly other mechanical issues causing my left side problems (tibial stress fracture and hip bursitis). It seems that i haven’t completely healed because when i came back from my time off in the Fall, i just did too much. He says it was probably mostly healed which is why i didn’t have any pain and had i eased into running over a few months, i might be ok but that’s just not how it went. I came back, had a few weeks to get ready for a marathon and off i went. Oh well.

There is obviously nothing you can do to speed up the healing of a stress fracture- it’s a fractured bone so the bone just has to heal. That mean mean Ortho told me this morning that i need to take 12 weeks off from running. What?!? That’s more than i’ve ever been told before! He also sent me to physical therapy to see if possibly my pelvis is out of alignment and maybe that’s what has caused my problems. I’m tired of having issues and just resting them or taking meds. I want to know WHY i’m having these issues in the first place.

So not only did i drive to Collierville this morning to see my Ortho (long way for this midtown girl), i also drove to Germantown this afternoon to visit with a new Physical Therapist. The good news is that PT thinks i’ll be running again sooner than 12 weeks. He also said he doesn’t think i have a pelvic alignment issue- or not too much of one. I do, however, have weak hips, glutes, and ankles- news that isn’t really new to me but i was happy with the diagnosis so i know exactly what to work on. The bad news is that he told me i have to be patient over the next few weeks. Ugh!! I hate being patient. Patience is a virtue- just not mine!

Bottom line is that i can’t use the elliptical for the next week and then i can ease back into it, i am allowed to bike if not using any (or much) resistance, i’m not allowed to walk on the treadmill for several weeks, i do NOT have to wear the boot unless walking long distances, and i have daily homework- stretches and exercises. I’m cool with all of this for right now. I plan to be diligent with my exercises and will try hard to either bike or do yoga every day. I’m trying hard to come to grips with the fact that i’m not going to be able to run Nashville- that’s ok though; that just means i’ll get to cheer everyone on instead!

Most importantly, i am still a runner!

Off i go to do all my little exercises. Maybe when i go back to PT in 2 days he’ll graduate me to the next level 😉

got Lent?

It’s almost that time of year again. Lent. Ten days from now is when i have to start really getting creative. I’ve decided to give up sugar for Lent! I didn’t say sweets. I said sugar. I’m giving up all added refined sugars and will only eat natural sugars- of course those found in fruits and veggies are allowed (i’m making my own rules, by the way!) but those found in breads, chocolate syrup, dressings, cookies, desserts, ice cream, peanut butter, gatorade, juices, sports gels, etc, etc, etc are not allowed.

This may not sound all that difficult but when i started really looking at ingredients on stuff, i was shocked. I eat a pretty healthy diet but that healthy diet still consists of chocolate milk (the chocolate has loads of sugar), toast (breads are loaded with sugar), peanut butter (guess what, sugar!), tortillas (sugar), sports beans (sugar), and so on. The bad thing is how sugar is hidden in so many products- it doesn’t have to say “sugar” to have sugar. It might say sucrose or high fructose corn syrup or about 20 other code names. Pictured above, by the way, is my homemade sugar free oatmeal honey wheat bread 🙂

I do plan to get quite creative with my baking though. After lots of research on “healthy” or natural sugars, i’ve decided to allow agave, pure honey, pure maple syrup and possibly molasses. Also, the sugar substitute, Truvia, may find it’s way into some of my recipes. It’s a natural, plant based sugar from what i understand. I have a week to do a little more homework on this as well.

This is going to be pretty difficult but that’s the point, right?! I’m really a sugar freak so rather than picking one item, chocolate, i’m going all in! Go big or go home! Let me say, though, that i’m not willing to be unhealthy and give up all carbs which are typically made with sugars- i’ll just have to bake my own breads, make my own granolas (yay, i already do this one!) and really plan ahead for all meals and snacks. My goal is to lower my sugar craving and hopefully learn to eat an even healthier diet than i already do.

What is Lent anyway? Lent originated in the very earliest days of the Church as a preparatory time for Easter, when the faithful rededicated themselves and when converts were instructed in the faith and prepared for baptism. By observing the forty days of Lent, the individual Christian imitates Jesus’ withdrawal into the wilderness for forty days. Because Sunday is the day of the Resurrection, we skip over Sundays when we calculate the length of Lent. Therefore, in the Western Church, Lent always begins on Ash Wednesday, the seventh Wednesday before Easter. In many countries, the last day before Lent (called Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Carnival, or Fasching) has become a last fling before the solemnity of Lent. For centuries, it was customary to fast by abstaining from meat during Lent, which is why some people call the festival Carnival, which is Latin for farewell to meat. (explanation borrowed from Ken Collins)

Anyway, there are plenty of people who observe Lent and plenty who don’t. People also have their various reasons for why they do it- religious or not. Maybe it’s just a time that you give something up just to see if you can and that’s all it really means to you. Maybe it’s a time of discipline in which you see if you can add something positive to your life. Maybe it’s truly a time when you reflect and repent.

I happen to like the 40 days of discipline it requires of me. It’s kind of like a little game i play with myself every year. I like it when things are difficult and i have to actually work at them to succeed. Weird, i know. However, it’s not going to be all about giving something up this year. I’ll also spend time each day writing in a journal- this is my reflection piece and i’m looking way more forward to it than eating a bunch of sugar free foods.

If you’re choosing to observe Lent, good luck! oh, and i would love to hear what you’re doing!

Unspoken Rules

Some rules are just unspoken- you assume that if you know them, everyone else does to. You know, like when you have company, allow them some space on the couch too?! Well, maybe sometimes we have to be reminded.

Toby forwarded me the article below. It’s about 10 unspoken rules of running. Some are common sense and some are just not. Read on..

Running is simple. You don’t need a room full of pricey equipment or to phone in advance for a tee time. Running doesn’t even require much skill—nothing could be easier. Naturally, there are tons of rules, says Runner’s World online editor Mark Remy, author of “The Runner’s Rule Book.” Not for the act of running itself, but about the code, largely unspoken, that governs behavior. Here’s a rundown of running etiquette.

1. Run against traffic.
Runners should travel on the left side of the road, facing traffic, so you can see and be seen by oncoming vehicles. That is, except when you’re approaching a blind curve. If you can’t see around a curve, neither can a driver coming the other way. About 300 feet before the curve, cross to the right side of the road. When the road straightens (and traffic permits), return to the left side.
2. …But run on the right in parks and on paths.
On routes closed to cars, standard practice is to stay to the right—unless, of course, park signage indicates otherwise.
3. Don’t run more than two across.
It’s great that you and your running buddies like to run side by side so you can chat and laugh, but it’s not Ok to take up the entire width of the path or trail. When people, cyclists or cars approach, proceed to single file.
4. You’re only as fast as your slowest running partner.
Be courteous when running with others who are slower than you—especially if you’re running together at their invitation. To avoid subconsciously pushing the pace, make a point to remain half a step or more behind whoever is running at the front.

5. Leave the iPod at home for a group run.
Listening to music is a great energy boost, but if you’re joining others to run, it’s rude to wear headphones. Plain and simple.
6. Acknowledge fellow runners.
This one is up for debate, but some runners feel snubbed when others don’t make a gesture of recognition. Brief eye contact and a quick nod or smile will do the trick.
7. Stand still at red lights.
Sharks die when they stop moving. Runners do not. Keep this in mind next time you encounter a don’t walk sign at a busy intersection. There’s no need to jog in place or dance from foot to foot like you have to pee. Stop your watch and just chill.
8. Warn before passing someone.
The idea is for you to give the other person’s brain enough time to process the warning before the actual passing occurs. The warning can take a number of forms, like a cough or a verbal heads-up like “Excuse me!” or “Passing on your left!
9. Farts happen.
Runners ingest a fair amount of healthy foods, which produce gas in the GI tract, where it cannot stay forever. Passing gas while running is excusable and inevitable. If a runner has clearly taken pains to mask flatulence, the polite thing is to pretend nothing happened.
10. Run on the inner lanes, walk in the outer ones.
Rules exist on running tracks to make behavior predictable and safe. The most universal rule: Faster runners stick to the inside lanes while walkers and runners doing recovery jogs should occupy the outer ones.
I actually have the book mentioned above, The Runner’s Rule Book, so i thought i would share some more from the book that i think are good. (by the way, #7 above cracks me up BUT sometimes it just hurts too damn bad to stop so i don’t mind acting like a shark; #5- i don’t mind headphones as long as your courteous about wearing them and are still able to talk to the person you’re running with)
Rule 1.43- Rest is training too: rest can often be your most important aspect of training
Rule 1.49- There will always be someone slower than you.
Rule 1.50- There will always be someone faster than you.
Rule 1.59- Know the difference between pain and discomfort: running is all about discomfort- seeking it, feeling it, managing it, and overcoming it. pain that causes you distress, poor running form, and lingers should be addressed.
Rule 1.62- Having a million things to do is an excuse FOR running, not an argument against it. (my favorite!)
Rule 2.17- Have a mantra.
Rule 11- If you cut a route short, please let someone in the group know.
Rule 12- Wear deodorant.
Whether you knew these “unspoken rules” before now or not, it’s always good to refresh your memory.
Any unspoken rules i’ve left out?!?!

Oh hell hill!

After going through all of my pictures i have on my computer, the only one i could find to express my feeling of a tough hill is the one above. You know the kind; when you may as well be going up the side of a wall. The kind where you might just put your hands down and crawl your way up it.

Well, that’s officially the type of hill at Shelby Forrest. I have gone back and forth and back and forth on whether or not to introduce the runners to these hills. The pro’s: hills are the best strength training you can do, these hills will make nashville hills look like little babies, the scenery is great, 9 miles on these hills are going to make 13 miles on road feel like a breeze…. The con’s: it’s going to take twice as long as 9 miles on the road, it will be the hardest run most people have ever done, people may never speak to me again after this run.

In all seriousness, i think it’s a great run IF done correctly! I would seriously be fine if 80% of it was walked. It’s more about building strength in the legs than it is running the distance.

Here are my rules for these types of hills:
* NEVER run all out- i don’t think there’s any way you can but don’t test it
* if you feel significant tension in any muscles in the back of your legs, slow down immediately and shorten your stride. do not run through pain- your body is telling you to reevaluate your stride on the hills
* if out of breath, slow down. if you need to walk, walk.
* never enter into something of this effort without fuel- eat before and during AND bring something for afterwards
* walk, walk, walk when you need to

Some tips:
* if you have significant knee pain, the downhills are going to be tough for you- walk them
* if you have significant hip or sciatic pain, the uphills are going to be tough for you- walk them or really try to engage your glutes to propel you up the hill
* sloppy form = fatigue and pain; if your low back starts to hurt (this is in any run), stand up straighter- make that core do it’s job!
* take it slow
* enjoy the scenery
* don’t look at your watch; who gives a flip what your pace is

Hill form tips:
* relax!
* stay upright- keep your head over your shoulders and shoulders over the hips and hips over the feet
* shorten your stride; too long a stride will only cause tightness in your hamstrings and quads; a shorter stride will help to relax your hammies
* keep your feet low (on the flats)- the less you have to lift your feet, the more effort you’ll conserve
* on the super steep hills, think of it as climbing stairs- raise your knees and climb the hill with short stair step stride

If it were me, on these hills, i would probably run the uphills at a very steady effort and walk the downhills. I highly suggest all of you trying it to see if this works for you. You’ll work your glutes on the uphill which is a great perk and you’ll save your quads and knees on the downhill.

Have i scared anyone off yet? I hope i’ve caused you to be alert but haven’t caused you to stay in bed on saturday. I want to be honest about this endeavor so that everyone is nutritionally prepared. Otherwise, it will just suck, plain and simple. However, since everyone has had time to get prepared, it’s going to be epic!

some great hill quotes to psych you up:

“the introduction of resistance in the form of sand and hill is too important to be ignored.” percy cerutty

“hills are speedwork in disguise.” frank shorter

“i like hills because you can see the top. i know that sounds glib, but you know that the hill is not going to keep appearing; it’s there and once you get to the top it’s behind you, and you feel as though you have conquered something.” rob de castella

“running hils breaks up your rhythm and forces your muscles to adapt to new stresses. The result? you become stronger.” eamonn coghlan

By the way, if i didn’t have confidence in my runners, we would never be visiting the Forrest. But i do, so we are 🙂

it’s not just about the runs

“For me, the hardest part of an injury is watching the races go by that I had hoped to compete in. The only thing that makes it easier is thinking of how certain struggles make other accomplishments mean so much.”
Dathan Ritzenhein

I was reading a book written by my RRCA coach, Janet Hamilton, and came across this tidbit of info: “if the average running stride length is 3.5 feet, that amounts to 1508 steps per mile. now multiply your body weight times 2.5- that’s roughly the amount of impact force being absorbed at each foot strike. so, for a 150 lb person, that totals 565,500 pounds of impact force per mile. now multiply that by a marathoners training schedule of 40 miles per week, you come up with 22,620,000 pounds of impact force per week.”

Wow! Those are crazy numbers. Janet goes on to say that 92% of injured runners seen in PT were found to have inadequate flexibility in one or more muscle groups. “If you want to avoid injury one of the best investments you can make is time spent stretching and strengthening your muscles,” she says. This makes perfect sense and i’m just as bad as the next person about doing my stretches. I know better so i need to do better.

Think about it, you’re running approximately 20,000 steps during a half marathon. It’s highly likely that every runner will have a running injury at some point in their lifetime. Is this because of the running? No, it’s because you have imbalances that caused weaknesses in other areas. The running impact is actually good for our bones but if we’re all out of balance, we’ll eventually have an injury. It may be a full fledged injury that takes you out for a while (ie- stress fracture, muscle tear) or something that causes some uncomfortable runs (ie- ITB syndrome, shin splints).

If something is uncomfortable, there is a reason and the reason is NOT running. The reason is probably weak hips, weak glutes, tight calves- usually something simple that can be fixed with some stretching and strength training. Don’t wait until it’s too late and you end up sidelined for months. Address issues now. Take cross training seriously- stretching and strength training.

Yoga, here i come (i’m already pretty good about biking and strength training but stretching is my downfall). I’m challenging myself to 3 yoga sessions (home or studio) per week for the next few weeks. Wanna join in on the challenge??

Sacrifice

Sacrifice isn’t the first thing i think of when i think of running but it’s definitely always in the back of my mind. I don’t, however, think of sacrifice as a negative word. It’s just something that comes with the territory. I have plenty of friends who talk about how they had to “sacrifice” so many things when they had children and some of these friends say it like it’s a negative thing but can’t it just be a decision? You wanted kids and therefore you knew you would have to make some sacrifices. You want to be a runner so you know you’ll have to make some sacrifices. It certainly doesn’t mean these sacrifices will always be easy but they’re typically things that, if done, will make the end result a little more enjoyable.

I’m certainly no competitive runner but i still know that it takes many sacrifices to be a runner, period. For the most part: I only have 1 beer on friday nights (maybe 2). I make sure i’m home at a decent time on nights before a run. I make sure at least 90% of my liquids come from water. I wake up on saturday’s at 6 am when i would much rather sleep in with georgia. I try to do core work even when i don’t want to. I drink Accelerade before bed (before super long runs) when i would rather be drinking a glass of wine. I run outside in the cold. I run outside in the heat. I get up on monday’s no matter how tired i am.

I don’t really see these things as sacrifices though. I think they’re just ways of life. They’re decisions. Don’t get me wrong, there’s always wiggle room and times when exceptions need to be made. I’m no party pooper and always up for having some fun. There have been plenty of times when i’ve gone to a concert or party the night before a run – i still get up and run; i just usually suffer a bit more than other times. I’m fine with this for myself every now and then but i really thrive off of the discipline that running gives me. There are even those times that i skip a run or workout (gasp!) but i usually regret it so much that i wish i had just done it.

One of the biggest “sacrifices” in my recent memory is when i needed to run 15 miles but was going to be in LA for my sisters wedding. I knew i would have no time the day before or day of the wedding so i had no choice but to do it the day i got there. I woke in memphis at 5:30 am, ran 6 miles with julie at 6 am, flew to LA, got to the hotel at 2 pm, ate pop-tarts and headed out for a 9 mile run at 3 pm. It was tough and, yes, i missed 2 hours of drinks on the roof but, seriously?! I still went out that night, managed to wear heels, had cocktails with the wedding party and still stayed true to my running.

A quote i shared this week is, “Running has taken me in, and continues to comfort, heal and challenge me in all kinds of magical ways. I am not a ‘good runner’ because i am me. I am a ‘good me’ because i am a runner.” I really love this quote. I can really relate. I think i am a much better me when i run- it keeps me accountable, disciplined, relaxed…it just works.

Got fuel?

it’s that time again to start talking about fueling. i’ve posted numerous blogs about this so rather than rewriting, here’s an old blog from the fall: (read it again even if you’ve already read it before- you may get something new out of it)

(originally posted oct. 3)
so, you’ve just finished your 6 mile run and you’re just exhausted. maybe it took you 60 minutes or 75 minutes. you’re hungry, tired, and sore. you feel like you can’t even walk to your car (or maybe you can’t even get off the treadmill). what’s going on? is it that the run was just that hard? no, probably not. it’s probably that your body is depleted of glycogen so your recovery is just going to be a little tougher than if it weren’t depleted of all it’s energy stores.

how can you avoid this in the future? fuel DURING your run

if you’re running only 60 – 75 minutes, you can typically rely on your body’s glycogen stores and your pre-run meal to power you through. if you’re running longer than this, you will need carbs during the run to get you to a strong finish.

Jackie Dikos, R.D., a consultant dietitian who heads Nutrition Success in Indianapolis, suggests that runners start “fueling before the onset of fatigue.” That means you should start taking in carbs between 30 and 60 minutes into your workout or race, depending on the intensity of your run. Dikos, who ran in this year’s Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials, starts drinking a carb-rich sports drink about 40 minutes into a marathon. You should then continue fueling in frequent, small doses. The ideal is 100 to 250 calories (or 25 to 60 grams of carbs) per hour, after the first hour of running, says Nancy Clark, M.S., R.D., author of Nancy Clark’s Food Guide for Marathoners. That’s the equivalent of one to 2 1/2 sports gels or 16 to 40 ounces of sports drink per hour. **most sport chews, beans and gu’s need to be consumed with water. i always run with a handheld water bottle so i have water with me on a long run. many of the handhelds also have a small pocket where you can store your gu’s, etc. 

That said, a runner’s exact calorie needs vary from person to person. As Clark puts it: “A Hummer needs more gas than a Mini Cooper.” Smaller runners might only need 100 calories every hour, while larger runners might need around 250 calories. The less fit you are, the faster you burn through stored carbs, meaning you’ll need more calories midrun to keep your tank full. Running at a quick pace or high intensity also uses glycogen at a faster rate-a car going 75 miles an hour uses more gas than one going 60.

Many runners rely on sport drinks (Gatorade, Powerade) and gels (PowerBar Gel, GU) for their carbs. “Both are sugar by another name,” says Clark. “Sugar is what your body wants.” But feel free to eat it in whatever form works for you, whether that’s Gummi Bears, dried fruit, or Twizzlers. Clark, a veteran of nine marathons, eats mini Milky Ways on her long runs; Shulman, a runner and triathlete who routinely wins her age group, likes Fig Newtons.

The key to long-run nutrition, says Shulman, is for runners “to experiment with what works for them.” Training runs offer the best opportunities to try new carb sources and practice timing your intake.
Between Keith and i, we’ve tried many different forms of fueling during a run so feel free to ask us questions.

Also, as a quick aside, what you eat before and after your runs is also extremely important. Make sure you’re eating before all your long runs- a good balance of a carb and protein (i like english muffins with peanut butter)- so you start your run with energy. After your run, you’ll want to take in some protein as quickly as possible- within about 30 minutes. I usually have a 100 calorie Muscle Milk light to tide me over until i can get a decent meal after my shower.

Give it a shot at the next long run so you can start figuring out what works for you!

Let me know if you have any questions! This weekend’s run is 7 miles for many of you and with the slower paces, you’ll be on your feet well over 60 minutes so i highly suggest fueling during this run. Practice makes perfect, even in fueling.

Another thing, many of you have tried various things and have figured out what works for you and what doesn’t. If you have any great tips, please share! by the way, the pic of the mac & cheese is because that’s what i became addicted to before my long runs- once i was running over 15 miles, i found that eating a small bowl of easy mac the night before my run worked really well for me. whatever works! 🙂