Tag Archives: yoga

Eugene Marathon Training Week #9

Good morning!

I am certain I won’t be saying this for more than week…but currently (please quote me on this later) I’m definitely ready to taper.

I feel like I’ve packed in all the training I could up until now, and it just feels like time to slow down, smooth out the cracks, and mentally prepare for race day.

Too bad that will be a three week process. But for now, I’m feeling more relived than anxious to be entering taper-phase. Part of that reason could be last week…it was a big one (for me).

M: REST

T: 10 miles fast-ish

W: 8 miles easy + Maximum Sculpt

T: 11.3 miles

F: 3500 yd swim ~80 min

S: 22.4 miles

S: 6.5 easy miles + 75 min yoga

Total= 58.2 miles

That right there would be the most miles I’ve run in this training bout. Most of it felt good…with the exception of some not-so-favorable conditions on Saturday’s long run.

*Edited to add: After some archive snooping, I discovered this is actually the most miles I have ever run in one week!

The truth is that I should be really grateful for Saturday. All the weather apps (yes I have more than one) promised “steady rain” and 10+ mph winds all day on Saturday. I whimpered a little bit on Friday night, but resolved that rain or no rain…the run was going to happen, and I needed to suck it up.

Imagine my euphoria, then, when the 7:00 am alarm went off and not only was there no rain on my window, but there were BLUE SKIES. Nothing will get me out of bed to run quicker than a welcomed fault in weather reporting. This optimism didn’t necessarily carry on through the run, unfortunately.

I’m not really sure if it was the distance, the headwind (they were right about that part), or just the day itself, but I never really fell into a groove during my long run this week. I really dislike when this happens, particularly as it ruins any hope for consistent pacing (my only goal for the run), and I hate having such variance in speed. The second half was infinitely better than the first half (a reprieve from a head wind will do that for you), and my fastest miles turned out to be my final 5 or so. I would upload and post my splits, but I’m a little afraid to look at their lack of symmetry quite yet.

I kind of felt like I hit the wall during this run, which is definitely not awesome during a training run. But. I suppose if I have to take it now or in Eugene, I’d much rather take Saturday.

At one point, I stopped my watch to refill my water bottle (holla for the fountains being back on!), and I forgot to turn it back on for ~.4 miles. Not really a big deal…except that I plum forgot about it until after the run was done, and after I’d completed the Garmin-verified 22.0 mile distance. During a regular run, this wouldn’t have made a difference. But on a 22 mile run, that extra .4 might have been the death of me.

But no matter. I would have liked to finish my longest long run on a more confident note, but you can’t always count on that. I’ve had more than my share of encouraging long runs this training cycle, so those are what I’ll try to focus on.

I spent the rest of Saturday cuddled in a blanket on the couch in the dark. It sounds pathetic, but it was actually rather perfect. And that rain they predicted? It started probably 20 minutes after I walked in the door from my run. I’ll call that a win for the day.

I also slept about 11 hours Saturday night, all of which felt super necessary. Nothing wipes me out quite like a long run, and there is no more delicious sleep than those fueled by miles (and an entire pizza in my stomach 🙂 )

Not too much else from last week is especially note-worthy. Going to yoga yesterday afternoon was one of the best decisions I made all week…and by “going,” I really mean summoning up every morsel of willpower in my being. There is no excuse for why I don’t prioritize going to yoga more, as it never fails to leave me feeling 100% better afterward. It’s just so much easier to choose an hour of sitting on my butt than an hour of downward dog. I can also easily fool myself too into thinking that I’ll just “stretch at home” and it will be just as effective as an expert telling me what to do. Lies.

However, I’m going to try and go at least twice before Eugene. It really is so good for us runners, and when I’m there I can almost hear my pissy muscles thanking me for finally giving them a little TOC.

Other than yoga, there are a few other “running accessories” that I wholeheartedly believe to be effective and helpful, but that’s a post for another day.

I hope everyone had a nice weekend!

Things I Love About Being a Runner (That Have Nothing To Do With Running)

We’ve heard/read/talked about all the 1,000,001 reasons why running is the best. Endorphins! Runners high! Strong legs! Low BMR!

And while all these things are indeed fantastic, recently I’ve been noticing that there are a lot of things about being a runner that I love…that don’t have anything to do with the actual act of running.

Naturally, my favorite parts of the sport revolve around the actual run itself—the feeling I get during an effortless long run, the satisfaction of a hard speed workout, and the joy of crossing a finish line.

There are, however, “bonuses”—if you will—to being a runner. And I’m not even talking about increased pasta allowance or toned legs. There are wonderful little things that you might not even realize…

Here are some of the things I’ve realized I love about being a runner that are simply fun free-bees that come with the sport, all existential ponderings aside.

Decreased care for sodium intake

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Bring on the salt! As someone who is at least mostly aware of all the “do not eat too much of _____” mantras that are preached, I’m always happy that I don’t even bat an eye at the thought that there’s too much salt in something. I’m a very salty sweater, and I can actually feel the difference for the better when I’ve consciously increased the salt in/on my food.

Sure, there are other reasons why you might need to stray away from excess sodium, like if you’re predisposed to high blood pressure, but I say if you’re a runner and you’re in the clear heart-wise, shake it on!

Assistance in commuting

McDreamy had a thing for ferry boats...which is why this photo is applicable. I'm also re-watching Grey's, therefore it is two-fold applicable.

McDreamy had a thing for ferry boats…which is why this photo is applicable. I’m also re-watching Grey’s, therefore it is two-fold applicable. BOOM.

At least once a week, often times more, I need to run to get to various forms of transportation on time. It’s a bad habit, and I don’t intend on it happening, but— because I’m a runner— I can get away with it.

I take the ferry to and from work, which is about a half mile away from my office building. Needless to say, figuring out my timing is crucial. Also, missing a ferry isn’t like missing a bus or a subway during rush hour when there’s typically another one coming right away. No, if you miss the ferry, you have to just sit at the dock for half an hour and wait for the next one. And yes, I know this from experience.

But, BUT! I have avoided this happening numerous times because of my running capabilities.

Exhibit A: The other day, I was bombarded by a chatty group of coworkers while trying to leave the building…delaying my perfectly-timed-out walk commute to the ferry. Needless to say, I was pushing it…and when I realized on my walk I had approximately 1 minute to get to the ferry and too much distance to cover, there was only one option.

Full on sprint. Computer bag, purse, ballet flats and all. But thanks to being a runner, not only was it not impossible to do, but I also made it in the nick of time.

Call it speed work. Running isn’t just for exercise, folks.

Fending off illness

MBEDz

This might be just me, and I apologize if it is and I’m just gloating, but being a runner has done wondrous things for my immune system. I hardly ever get sick, or even a cold for that matter, and if I do it seems to be gone within a day or two. I can’t remember the last time I had a fever, or anything worse than a sore throat. I think running has a lot to do with this…and it furthers the notion that exercise is really one of the best medicines.

I can also guarantee I will wake up tomorrow with pneumonia after writing that. Knock on wood, etc. etc.

Convenience

tumblr_inline_mfe3z56SaR1ro2d43

Running is about 100x more convenient than other exercise. It doesn’t have business hours, it doesn’t close for holidays, it doesn’t require you to pay a membership fee. It’s really just all-around a great thing to have in your fitness repertoire.

Before I was a runner and I’d go on vacation, I knew I wouldn’t have access to a gym so I’d stress out and just condemn myself to a sweat-less couple of days. Running was too difficult an option at that time because I never regularly did it.

But now that I’m a runner, not only do I have the option to exercise on vacation, on holidays, etc…but I love to run in new places. It’s one of my favorite ways to see a new place, and I love the notion that no matter where you go, running is always an option.

Yoga feels so much better

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Seriously. If you’ve ever done pigeon pose after a heavy mileage week, you know what I’m talking about.

I do like yoga, and I kind of have spurts of going, but one thing’s for sure that my incentive to go is directly related to my current running patterns. The more running, the higher the chance I’ll be craving some warriors and forward-folds.

Disclosure time: My desire to go to yoga doesn’t actually have to do with the stretching/flexibility benefits. 

Yes, those things are nice, but I really want to go because it feels so stupid good after my muscles have been shortened and pounded by the pavement. Put my in pigeon while marathon training, and I’ll be giddy and drooling like Drew Brees in those Nyquil commercials.

….

Those are just some of the various bonuses to being a runner. I love that the benefits of this sport seem to be endless…both on and off the road.

Now I want to know: What are your favorite parts about being a runner that have nothing to do with running? Nothing about “mind-clearing” and “sole-cleansing”…let’s get specific here.

Happy Friday!

Eugene Marathon Training Week #4

Happy Monday folks, how’s your day off to so far?

Time for a little training update. My tail is between my legs a bit as I know my last post was last Monday…and it was also a training update, but it happens sometimes. Ironically, I have a drafted post about how I haven’t been posting/haven’t had time/haven’t had inspiration, but of course, it remains a draft.

No matter, I think you’d rather read about running than my boring musings about not posting anyways.

This week was good. Kind of weird, as in it felt both very easy and very hard, but overall it was pretty quintessential marathon training.

M: 6.6 miles easy PM

T: 10 miles with 5 @ HMGP

This was hard. One of those workouts where I questioned how the f I was able to run 7:30s for 13.1 miles not too long ago. But either way, it happened and here’s how it went down:

2.5 mile warm up

7:27, 7:25, 7:27, 7:26, 7:23

2.5 mile cool down

This kicked my butt, but it was one of those runs where I could almost feel how effective the fast miles were going to be. Good stuff. Learning to appreciate the pain…and appreciate when it’s done 🙂

W: 8 miles + Maximum Sculpt <— love love love this class

T: REST

F: 6.6 miles slow

S: 20 miles in ~2:42

S: 4000 yd swim (~2.2 miles) + yoga

Total= 51.2 miles

Lots of numbers up there to talk about. First of all, I had my first 20 miler on Saturday, and for better or for worse—it was a tough run. Based on the route I chose, I ended up with about 14 miles of headwind—which is perhaps my least desirable condition, especially on a long run. Give me snow storms and pouring rain, but please oh please spare me the wind. Thank goodness for no goal-pace miles. BUT, I firmly believe that it’s the really grinders, the mentally-challenging runs that make the marathoner. 26.2 miles hurts no matter what—so it’s better to train with a little pain sometimes as opposed to simply fairy-dusting our way through each long run. So, once I again, I embraced it. And despite the slug-fest feeling of it all, I finished in a pretty good time. My right leg was super tight/heavy, which I felt was holding me back, but apparently it was more of a brain thing.

Another number to discuss: 50! I broke that barrier this week, and while I could feel the mileage increase, I have to say I’m a little shocked at my recovery times and how much they’re decreasing. I was barely sore after Saturday’s run, and on Sunday my legs felt as if it hadn’t even happened. Really happy about this. It could be that it’s my 4th time doing a full training cycle, or a myriad of other cosmic possibilities I suppose, but at any rate I think I’ll just keep doing what I’m going.

Admittedly, the big 5-0 number is when I start to get hyper-aware of injury possibility. The higher mileage weeks have always been the common denominator for me in terms of when I get hurt, so honestly I have been experiencing a little injury-hypochondria. Better paranoid  safe than sorry though. Again, I’m going to just continue to do what I’m doing and listen to the little aches and such as they come and go.

Oh, and in case you’d like an update…PSJJ is still happening! We’re into the 60s now, and it’s rough. But not rough enough to quit yet. The push-ups are getting easier, which is nice, but the sit-ups are getting tougher. We’ll see.

One last thing I’d like to point to: Yoga! I haven’t been to yoga since probably last October or so, and while I always kind of dread going, I forget how happy I am when I’m done. It’s hard to psych myself up for a yoga class the same way I can psych myself up for a run, but, like running, I’m always thankful after the fact. And let me tell you, there are much worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon than a long solo swim followed by an easy yoga class. So rejuvenating and cleansing.

Anyway, this week is cutback week—which feels like perfect timing. Not only will I be out of town (!!!HAWAII!!!), but it feels like the perfect point in time to draw in the reigns a bit.

That’s all for now, I hope at some point I can entertain you with more than just training-reflections and weekly updates 🙂 You can, however, count on an assortment of photos from our Maui trip after we return—as for when we’re there, well, I am hoping to forego all social media as much as possible, so until next week—aloha!

How was your weekend? 

Doing Things I Don’t Normally Do

I’m not going to jump to conclusions, and I’m certainly not one to live life in a “worst-case-scenario” kind of mind set. However, I am starting to internalize the fact that there will not be any running in my immediate future.

I am trying to live this day-by-day, mostly because I get too depressed if I think too far out, but also because I really don’t know how long this IT band issue is going to be, well, an issue. So, without a medically-officiated recovery timeline or any actual doctor advice whatsoever, I am deciding to do two things: take it one day at a time and  find the silver lining.

I will never, ever, be completely comfortable knowing that I’m unable to run. I am a runner, it’s so much a part of who I am, and when I’m unable to partake in my favorite activity, I feel scared and a little lost. I have come back from injuries before, I know I can and will get through them, but there is a stubborn seed planted deeply in my brain that cannot help but long for nothing more than a run. I know I am not alone in this type of thinking, and in fact I think most runners—once the sport gets under their skin—feel exactly the same way. I love running all the time, but nothing makes me really crave a run like being told that I can’t do it. 

So while the yearning and sadness is definitely there, I am finding that instead of drowning in a pit of “I’ll never run again” despair, I’m trying to take this as an opportunity instead of a set back. I think one of the biggest things we feel as injured runners is that all our fitness will evaporate if we take some time off, and we’ll have to start over as slow, wheezing couch potatoes. 

This is not true. Sure, you probably won’t be able to come back to running in marathon shape, maybe not even half-marathon shape, but it is absolutely possible to maintain your fitness and strength when you can’t run. I did not run a single step for three months last year…and four months after I was healed, I was running my first marathon. Please note that three of these months were spent training for the race.

I was certainly intent on keeping up my endurance during my injury period, which made the return to running much quicker, and I think it’s important for runners to remember that while the alternatives may not be as freeing or fun as a long, sweaty run in the sunrise—they will ultimately help you get back in your running shoes. And in fact—they can make your running better.

Which brings me to my current state of affairs. While I’m not sure how long I’m going to be out, and obviously I’m hoping for a short-term recovery as opposed to an extended period of time, I’m deciding to use this time to work on all the things I typically neglect. 

I’ve been finding myself doing things out of my regular routine recently, particularly exercise wise. And by “recently,” I’m being quite literal…as in, the last few days, seeing as I ran a marathon 9 days ago and only felt fully recovered this past weekend. The most effective “lemons into lemonade” mode of operation at this point is to do all the things I normally don’t do/can’t do when I’m logging heavy mileage. 

Although, Paul Rudd does give a viable option as well…

LOL

Anyways, bailing isn’t necessarily an option. I’ve invested too much money on running shoes, gear, and race registrations. Plus, I couldn’t give up even if I wanted to. So instead I’m focusing on these types of things:

-Leg strengthening

I think the last time I did anything close to a lunge was in high school track. Seriously. I never ever do any kind of weights regimen for my legs because I never want them to be sore for my runs. I always figured that I was getting enough leg strengthening through running, so I totally short-changed myself in the weights room department. NOTE TO ROBYN: Running targets certain leg muscles, but ignores others, leaving you SUSCEPTIBLE TO INJURY.

Okay, I did know this…I just figured spinning was making up for my lack of any hip/leg/glutes strengthening. And maybe it was helping, but nothing beats to power of honest-to-goodness lunges, squats, clams, etc. Give ’em to me baby, and please find someone to lift me out of bed when my legs don’t work afterward.

– Biking

I’m going to address this in an upcoming post, but my interest in taking up biking is reaching a peak. I currently have a nice little hybrid cruiser, which is fine for riding to the grocery store or around the neighborhood, but as for real-deal Lance Armstrong riding? No can do. I need to get a real bike if I want to be serious about this, and it’s something I’m committing to doing before summer really starts.

(This is your cue to keep me accountable!)

(I never ride my bike to the grocery store, or around the neighborhood. It sits by the side of my house 24/7. That previous statement was me pretending like my $300 Craigslist purchase was being used.)

– Arm, core, etc. things

I always like feeling strong, and although I definitely do arm and core strengthening work, my routine is somewhat hum-drum, and honestly…it’s probably becoming ineffective. Essentially, every other day I’ll do the same repetitions of the same exercises, with the same weight used, and I am fairly certain my body has become immune to it. I always loved the idea of really pushing my muscles to their potential and maybe achieving a bit more definition, however when all my exercise time is devoted to running—these things fall to the way-side. 

Look out Muscle Beach, I’m coming for you. Well, no, you’re in California, but you get the point.

-Yoga

I love yoga. I haven’t always loved yoga, and there was a period of time when I scoffed at all the asana-namaste-om-om-om-om-warrior 8 loving people out there. But a few good classes and magical instructors later, I was a born-again yogi, and I would really like to devote some energy into developing both the habit of going regularly and my skills on the mat.

Yoga is one of the reasons I think I’ve been somewhat injury-free for the past year, with the exception of these past two or so months (INTERESTING how the three weeks I didn’t go to yoga were directly followed by my knee bursitis). Frankly, yoga is normally done as a supplement to my other forms of exercise, and it’s really unappealing to go to a class after work when I’ve already spent two hours of my morning sweating. 

However, when I’m there, I love it, and not just for the sweet planks and stretching that happens. If you haven’t already taken notice (and if not I’m assuming this is your first time here—so HI!) I am a wee bit intense and competitive. Yoga takes me out of my “Must plan and get excited for everything that will ever happen ever!” brain for an hour and helps me focus on being in one place. I know this is the very basic level of yoga—being in the moment—but for someone like me, it takes a lot of effort and concentration to really get to that kind of present state of mind. When I do, though, I feel more grounded, centered, and calm—all good things.

Upping the yoga. Also, I stick mainly to level one classes…which is honestly due to laziness.  I know I can keep up with a higher level, and THANKS TO NOT RUNNING<—-did you see me say that??? I’m going to try and focus more energy on being hopped up on Zen.

What am I trying to say? Well, truthfully, I’m warning you that many of my upcoming posts are probably going to be complaining about being sore. That was the whole point of this post—warning you about my up-and-coming whine fest. 

…also a wine fest is something I don’t normally do that I think should happen asap.

Okay, that’s not really my point. Ultimately, I’m trying to spin this running-leave-of-absence into a positive. I know I am not always going to see it that way, and I am certain there will be some complaining along the way, but I’m trying. And for now, that’s really the best I can hope for.

On one final note, if there were ever a time to focus on all the other great things to do besides running, I think it’s right now. After catapulting myself into the ground during the Tacoma Marathon, I think this IT band rubbish may be a blessing in disguise. An opportunity to reconnect with the world outside of running, and to reestablish a healthier, less-medical-tent filled relationship with the sport I love so very much.

So running, you can sit on the shelf for now. And although I am going to stare at you longingly and lovingly, I want you to sit back and relax while I make acquaintances with things like heavy weights, side crow, and drenching every spin bike in my gym with glorious sweat. We’ll be back together at some point, and it’s going to be sweeter than ever. 

If you weren’t running (or perhaps you’re not?) what would YOU decide to focus more energy on? Rock-climbing? Zumba? Channel-surfing? Knitting? Having calves that actually fit into boots? Tell me! 

 

 

Warning: Sparkly Excitement Ahead

You know how you secretly hate those people who are all “Happy Monday!” “Welcome to the week!” “I love life!”? Seriously, pretty much everyone is merely trying to get through this first day of the week, why do you need to shove it in our faces that you are hyped on Prozac and caffeine and unicorns all the time?

Yea, well…today, I am one of those people. So, if you aren’t feeling exclamation points and glass-over-flowing-with-excitement optimism this afternoon, go ahead and quietly scroll your arrow to the little “x” box at the top right corner of your screen and pretend like you were never here. No hard feelings.

Still with me? Sweet! Now let’s make some sweet sweet rainbows and sunshine together.

On Friday, I posted a bit about my hopefulness and hesitation for the fate of my spring marathon aspirations. Due to my knee being a huge a-hole and my training getting thwarted for two weeks, I was coming to terms with the fact that things may not pan out as I’d hoped.

And I was okay with it…I really was.

Then came yesterday’s run. Oh dear, sweet yesterday’s run.

After very grudgingly getting out of bed for an attempted “long run,” I decided that I would be shooting for 16 miles. That was the ideal, and if I had to cut it short, I would accept it. Because that’s the Smart Runner Bird I’m trying to be, remember?

So then, I started to run. And I felt fantastic. And I kept running…and I still felt fantastic.

Call it cortisone, call it rest, call it luck, call it the Aleve I took literally 3 minutes before walking out the door, but no matter what it was…it worked. I kept running, waiting for my bursa sack to inflame and immobilize the rest of my leg the way it had been for the past two weeks.

NADA. NOTHING.

I stopped halfway through to stretch a bit, and while my knee tingled a bit, there was no indication that running was irritating or bothering it in any way. As I started off on the last half, you could not get the smile off my face. It was ridiculous and reminiscent of an elementary school “You Can Do It!” motivational poster…but I just couldn’t help it. The thought, “I’m back!” kept reverberating in my brain, and I relished every moment. It also didn’t hurt that despite a forecast of rain and wind, there was sunshine and {some} wind instead.

So proud of you Seattle, so proud of you knee.

I even threw in a mile long hill at the end of it all with a 300 ft. elevation gain for some added grunt, and the knee seemed to take it all in stride. I felt as if my knee was like, “Okay Robyn, since you actually did the right thing and laid off me I’ll suck it up and get better. You win.”

Total mileage? 17.22

SO PSYCHED. This was super encouraging, as I’ll {hopefully} still be able to get in two, 20+ milers before taper.

Please excuse my overly enthusiastic Tweet yesterday in which I had miscalculated my mileage before mapping it.

awkward.

No problem. 18 would have been great, but 17 is great too.

Side note: I have this weird thing about running distances that are odd numbers. As in, I am really uncomfortable with it, and I almost always try and run even numbers of miles. Half Marathons are great, but 13.1 is scary numerically to me. Fun Fact Monday. Well, maybe not fun, but maybe it helps make you feel more normal?

I even foam rolled afterwards and stretched! Improvements!

I would like to say this face was exaggerated, but that would be a lie. Self portrait attempts + quad mutilation via hunk of foam + face caked in salt= the essence of beauty.

And if I hadn’t already basked in pain-free running glory enough, I decided to do the wise injury-prevention thing and go to yoga yesterday afternoon. It was definitely not my best performance, and I stuck to all the easier versions of the poses, but my calves and hammies were very happy with all the stretchy attention the got. I think I fell asleep for a minute in savasana also, but that must mean I was really meditative and Zen. Right? Good.

And speaking of meditative and happiness and birdies, this was also a necessary end to the day:

Oh buttery, sugar-coated, pink, bird sugar cookie, I love you.

I am feeling wonderfully sore and sleepy today. After not doing a long run for a few weeks, those miles definitely wiped me out in the best possible way. I’m still on the watch for lingering injury pain, but yesterday was definitely a fat ole’ confidence boost kick-in-the-butt. {I also don’t think you can get more adjectives/descriptive nouns in one sentence. Way to go English major, way to utilize your inability to tone down your detailing.}

Nothing like a little patience to really make a run feel like solid gold.

Shake out run today, and presuming things keep going well, I’m looking forward to continuing on in this [final!] month of marathon training.

____

Now… please let me hear your lovely voices! Did you race this weekend? Long run? How’d it go? Are you as sad as I am that Alec Baldwin is engaged?

My Running Report Card

Hello, friends!

Okay, so I might have gotten a little overly critical in yesterday’s post in regards to the commercialization of running. The running industry has contributed so much information and research toward the improvement and accessibility of running, and many of the “rules” they’ve come up with are indeed very credible. My point was simply that you shouldn’t presume every new fact, product, and tip that comes out about running directly applies to you. Running is very individualistic (one of the reasons it’s great) and don’t immediately presume that you’re doing something wrong if “groundbreaking” research tells you so.

With that said, there are particular “running rules” that seem to apply to at least the majority of runners. For example, hydration and carbohydrates are two things that I think all runners can agree are must-haves. I’m constantly kind of laughing at myself and shaming myself for the things I think I do very right and very, very wrong in regards to these running “basics.” Truly, there are some things I don’t do stereotypically “right” that I believe has no impact on my progression as a runner. However, there is definitely room for improvement, which is why I’ve decided to do a little analysis of my good and bad habits, in conjunction with the “rules” of being a good runner. The grades I’ve awarded myself are what I believe the whole of the running industry would give me.

 

Rule #1 Thou Shalt Hydrate

Grade: B

I always have the best intentions when it comes to hydrating properly. I carry a Camelback water bottle with me constantly, and I awkwardly ask public places to fill it as often as I can. However, I would say I don’t hydrate as often as should given my activity level. I think I’m hydration-proficient when it comes to the Average Person, however given the excess amounts of sweat I create during the day, I should probably be drinking more water—especially later in the day.

However, I really only ever drink water (and one cup of coffee in the morning), so at least my hydration is coming from the purest source.

Changes Necessary? Yes. I firmly believe that runners should pay a lot of attention to how hydrated they are. I know that above all other factors, if I’m dehydrated on a run it makes the most noticeable difference.

 

Rule #2:Thou Shalt Stretch

Grade: B+

If the “importance of stretching” were limited to pre and post run, I would probably get more of a C in this category. Admittedly, I’m not stellar at stretching immediately after a run, and I hardly ever stretch beforehand. However, I’m a dedicated yogi, and I credit the 2-3 hours I spend a week on my mat toward my stretching grade. This is actually a debatable topic for runners; while many argue for the value of stretching, there are many intense distance runners who claim to never stretch (Dean Karnazes for example…although his “human” credibility is questionable). The science behind the importance of stretching is variable as well, so this is definitely an area where I’d argue to do what works best for you.

Changes Necessary? Not really, BUT that is very dependent on continuing to do things such as yoga and foam rolling. Additionally, BF and I take turns torturing rolling each others’ calves with The Stick (remember that Friday “Favorite”?), which I think helps with our muscle relief. So, I would say my habits are working for me, but the measures I do take to remain stretched and loose must be maintained.

 

Rule #3 Thou Shalt Cross-Train

Grade: A

I have to say I’m proud of myself for this one. I never, ever used to think that anything other than running was a viable workout. I thought a sweat was wasted if it wasn’t spent on a run, so it definitely took me a while to really learn to appreciate (and love!) a cross-training routine. And truthfully, I was kind of forced to—when I got hurt almost a year ago (due to excessive running) cross training was my only exercise option for a solid three months. And I’m actually grateful for it, because now I not only enjoy other activities other than running, I definitely think they make me a stronger and smarter runner. I 100% believe spinning has helped my speed, swimming has helped my recovery and cardio strength, and yoga has helped quicken my muscle repair.

This is actually another debatable point in terms of “proper” running training. Many people vouch for it, however there is a large number of people who think the only way to be a better runner is to run, and that’s all. I definitely see both sides, and while there are days I’d much rather run than anything else—I know my body really thrives most when there’s variety in my workout routine.

Changes Necessary? Not right now. If there is a time when I’m really looking to amp up my training (either for increased speed or increased race length) then maybe I’ll need to tone down the cross-training, but for now I think that as long as I’m getting my marathon-prep miles in, there’s no reason to cut out the cross training.

 

Rule #4Thou Shalt Fuel

Grade(s):

Pre-run: B, Mid-run: D, Post-run: A

So, I’ll leave the debate of what to fuel with for another discussion, but in general I would say that the grades above are pretty much how the running industry would rate my fueling abilities. If I have a long run in the morning, I’m better about pre-run fueling for sure, but for just an every-day run I normally only have a handful of cereal and a few sips of water. It could be better for sure, but it does work for me and I have a persnickety digestive system to begin with, so I don’t really care to experiment.

As I mentioned in Monday’s post, I’m really bad at fueling during my runs. Honestly, I’ve tried the whole gummies/gels/etc gunk, and all it does is make my stomach hurt. I wish they worked, and I think I might be able to condition myself to stomach them a bit better, but I really prefer a sports drink instead. That said, I only actually bring fuel on a run if it’s a really long run—another reason for my D grade.

As for post run re-fueling, I think I’m pretty good about the whole “carb-to-protien” ratio or whatever it is we’re supposed to do. I almost always eat within an hour of running, and I make sure that it’s something at least marginally substantial. I can really only credit my voracious appetite to my skills in this category, in that it only takes about 20 minutes after a run to set my appetite a-flame.

Oh, and in terms of calorie replacement after a long run—I have no issues there. See: My addiction to cookies.

Changes Necessary? Some. I would like to be a better mid-run fueler, and I think that as my marathon training increases, I’m not going to have a choice but to get used to the gummy energy thingers—unless I want to feel like total crap by the end. Also, I’ve started to get hungry during my runs more frequently, so I’m thinking I’m going to try adding something a little more substantial beforehand.

 

Rule #5 Thou Shalt Take Rest Days

Grade: C-

I am really, really trying to get better at this—and I think I am, but as I’ve said it’s not in my nature to intentionally take rest days. I know I justify my lack of rest days with cross-training… as in: well, I’m not running—therefore it’s okay. And actually, there are days where I’ll only do yoga or a light swim, but overall I would say I must be more programmed to completely let my body regroup and relax.

Changes Necessary? Yes, and it’s a work in progress—I promise!

 

So there you have it. Five very basic rules that I would say the majority of the running world agrees upon. I didn’t even get into shoe replacement, speed work, and proper training plans, because there’s way too much variety and—again—I don’t think there’s one right answer. I actually don’t believe there’s necessarily a “right” answer for the rules I’ve stated.

However, my goal is to show you that sure, there are some guidelines to this whole running thing, and as an active distance runner, I’m both sub par and exceptional for different ones. The point is that while I’ve acknowledged the areas I could improve upon, there are certain nuances that I don’t abide by and it’s no big deal. Not that my running career is scientific proof of anything (English major folks, and a liberal arts school one at that), BUT I hope that I’ve shown the importance of analyzing what works best for you.

So listen to the experts, read the studies, and buy the books, but remember that the most credible source of information is your own body. It knows better than anyone else what does and doesn’t work for you as a runner—and in the end that’s who you should be abiding by.

 

NOW YOU! What grades would you give yourself for these running “rules”?

 

 

 

An {Exercise} Affair to Remember

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I hope you have spent the day doting on a loved one, or simply doting on yourself. I personally see nothing wrong with showering yourself with love on Valentine’s Day, because—after all—shouldn’t we show ourselves the same kind of affection we show others? I think so.

If you’ve read this blog for more than 9 seconds, you know that I have a mild obsession for activities that make me sweat. Running is my numero uno {Read: The title of this blog.}, but as you know there are other physical activities that get me all giddy inside as well.

That being said, I’m realizing that my feelings for each of these activities is very parallel to stereotypical romantic relationships. Say what? you ask. Well, allow me to explain it to you in my Valentine’s Day Tribute to the Three Lovers in my exercise life.

SPINNING

Oh spinning, you dirty little Casanova.

Spinning is the essence of a steamy, infatuous, lustful relationship. You all know the kind. It’s gets you all hot and bothered (yes, literally) and you find yourself somewhat addicted after just a few meetings.

Just think of the kind of music that plays in spin. Fast, upbeat, invigorating, Britney…you get the point. It’s not true-love-let’s-have-babies music, it’s “You’re hot and I’m interested for tonight” music.

And the sweat. Oh, the sweat. Spinning can get your pores going more than any other cardio workout there is. I can run for 18 miles and never sweat the way spinning for an hour does. It’s not that running doesn’t know what it’s doing, and in fact—I do sweat a lot—but there’s really nothing quite like a good drenching from a spin class.

{Sex joke inserted here}

In the end, it’s not going to work out. The gym isn’t always open, classes and instructors come and go, but you never forget the jolt you get from spending an hour atop that bike.

I realize I’m walking right into these, but I’m not sorry?

 

YOGA

You know that best guy{or girl} friend you had all through those rubbish relationships? (Yep, Adele reference right there). The friend that had your back no matter what, and even if you didn’t talk for a few weeks, they were right there to pick you up.

That’s yoga.

Reliable, dependable, and ready to pick up your pieces when I’ve been spit out by my other lovers.

You see the other lovers, despite being debonaire and flirtatious, have a way of breaking me down. That’s the problem with intensely deep relationships—they can hurt just as easily as they can make me feel invincible. Luckily, yoga is there—ready to swoop in and cradle me in its loving, non-judgmental arms.

Yoga brings me back to life when things get rough, and many would argue that it should be yoga that I end up with when all is said and done. The problem is, though, there isn’t any passion with yoga. Sure, it brightens my spirits and is fun to hang out with, however it doesn’t quite have the ability to get me going the same way my other lovers can.

Think Johnny and Marissa from the OC, Gustav the farm boy from Ever After, or Dan Humprey in this season of Gossip Girl.

All of them are {this} close to nabbing the leading lady, but at the end of the day, they are cast into the “we’ll always be friends” role.

By the way, if you didn’t understand any of those references, I’m slightly judging you.

Kidding, but for real you should watch Ever After. Or, hit up Netflix and let Gossip Girl ruin take over your “I’m way too old to watch this show but I can’t stop” adult life.

Running

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the leading man in the production of my Exercise Love Life.

Running is the sappy love songs you pretend to hate in public but secretly belt in your car.

It’s the yin to my yang, the Noah to my Allie, the Mickey to my Minnie.

Okay, maybe that didn’t totally translate, but you get the point: Running is the love of my life, and no matter who else tickles my fancy, there will never be anything quite like running.

Running does all the things that a perfect mate should: It knows when I need it most, it challenges me to do my best, it helps make my days better no matter what, and—most of all—it’s unconditional. Running will always be there to rejuvenate my love for life and for myself. Sure, it can be tough on me, and sometimes I may even think I’ll give up on it. But even if my back is turned, running is still right there, ready to guide me when I need a hand to hold.

Being a runner is one of the titles I pride myself most on, not because I think it’s impressive or somehow gives me leverage, but I love the feeling of encompassing myself with an activity that is so simply happy.

Because in the end, all we want from our relationships is to make us happy. And although spinning and yoga can liven my mood, there is nothing quite like the overwhelming joy of a good run.

 

So there you have it. I’ve learned a lot from each of these relationships, just as we learn a lot from our relationships in our real lives. Certainly, the complexities of romance are far less simplistic than “How do I want to work out today?,” and I know it’s a lot harder to typecast actual people quite so stereotypically. However, when we strip relationships in our lives to their bare bones, both with people and the things we partake in, we can see the ways in which they build us up, knock us down, and how they have shaped our experiences.

And to those of you who know my history a bit, I must add this side note: BF might have held the best friend role in high school, but he has also been all three of these aforementioned relationships at one point or another, which together has given us a wonderfully dynamic, passionate, and all-around wonderful romance that I’m so grateful for everyday.

Hey, it’s V-Day. I had to give at least one sappy shout out.

 

Now, go eat your weight in truffles, and know that no matter who you may or may not be celebrating with, the most important kind of love is the kind you have for yourself. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned over my 23 years, it’s that the ability to make ourselves happy is the most valuable Hallmark card of them all.

 

And yes, I do still watch Gossip Girl and have no intention of stopping.

 

NOW YOU! Tell me some of the loves in your life! Running, Ryan Gosling, Chipotle burritos, Harry Potter, anything!