Minimalist running.

You knew I’d get to this post right?  It’s all the craze in the running world right now and being both a scientist and a runner, I had to come to this point eventually.

Before all the hype started, I read a paper, published by a reputable group of scientists on the biomechanics of running barefoot.  I also read Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall, before it became so inspirational and hence encouraging of all these barefoot runners.  Don’t get me wrong, I think this is a fantastic book, a brilliant story and there is definitely something to the idea that less cushioning will allow our feet to actually feel the ground and do what they were made to do.  I’m always a proponent of the more “natural” way of doing things.  However, barefoot running is not something one should just start on a whim.  I occasionally run with a very flat trail/water shoe, when out on the lake for the weekend …on soft trails and it feels great!  I don’t feel that on the sidewalks of my city for my distance runs that it would be a great plan.  I need some cushioning.  Correct shoe fit and the proper shoe choice for your usage are the sole solution here.

Never just assume that because something is published, that it is right.  For many years, people believed the Earth was flat.  For many years, we all believed that we needed extra cushioning and “sox” and all sorts of gels and bubbles and so forth, to help soften our pounding on the pavement.  Now a book and a few radicals push this idea and we’re all on the wagon?  Careful kids, everything in moderation.  Every day in science, things that we previously thought were irrefutable, are proven wrong.  The Nature paper,  ‘Foot strike patterns and collision forces in habitually barefoot versus shod runners” (Lieberman et. al, 2010)  makes a wonderful scientific study of the benefits of barefoot running which goes along nicely with Born To Run.

I like the concept of rebelling against shoe companies who play off our fear of injury by developing shoes that hurt us more than help us, however…and this is a big BUT…isn’t it awfully ironic that in rebelling against shoe companies we are pushing people to buy Vibram Five Fingers and Nike Frees?  In reality, couldn’t this be yet another marketing ploy?

The bottom line is that no matter who you are, you are an individual with individual needs.  Only you can know what your particular foot, joints, legs and/or body will function best with.  Always use your own discretion and choose what works for you-don’t waste needless piles of money on the latest gimmick.  And in my opinion, running with a minimalist shoe, rather than completely Barefoot or with the lovely gimmick of Vibrams, can be much safer for most and much more affordable.  There have been countless articles published about how the best running shoes, can be the least expensive, due to the lower level of cushioning and bells and whistles.  So if you want to try this trend…look in your closet, you may already have some cheaper, minimalist shoes in there.

Either way, keep on running!

Ouch!

Well here we go.  My first injury in ages.  I mean ages.  I’m almost ashamed to mention it beause I’ve been so injury-free through my last couple half marathons and racing seasons…I just don’t know, why now?

Last night I iced them (did the whole RICE) thing, but I can still feel them throbbing and can barely walk.  This happened once last summer too, but you all know how hard it is to take time off from running when you are in training!  Ugh.  Any input?  I know I shouldn’t have trudged through my 35 minute tempo run last night but I can be a fiesty little brat sometimes.  I also think I dropped a nasty word when I had to stop for a sec and make sure I could still stand when I stopped moving.  For some reason the faster I ran, the pain seemed to lessen (maybe just numb).  A little old man in his flower bed, doing some gardening sure got a suprise.  I better take a different route for awhile.

On vacation this week with my precious daughter.  We day tripped to Montreal and got some school shopping done, practiced diving, got her hair cut and spent loads of quality time together, biking and chatting and re-organizing her closet (her choice, she loves that stuff).  And she got a new Shrek Opi nailpolish.  Another variant of blue!  I love staycations.  Today is our loungy, rest day.  Stepson is at his mom’s for two weeks and then he’ll be back with us.   Our kids start school a couple days after Labor Day so it’s not all that far off now.  Are you done your school shopping?  My daughter isn’t so about it this year.  She got a few things, but she wanted enough to start out and then buy more throughout the fall.  Much different than kindergarten when she started with over 35 outfits.  Oh those little Gymboree outfits with matching shoes and hair accessories.  Those were the days.  Cardigan, tights, skirt, sweater and headband…all matchy-matchy.

It’s getting hot in here…

Really, really, really hot in here.  Here in upstate NY, we consider 80 degrees Fahrenheit to be sweltering hot, since we often get below zero temperatures for a large amount of our winter.  I run all winter long, outside.  It has to be very frigid to keep me indoors on my treadmill.  Sometimes in the winter, if I’m in training, I will do my speedwork or interval training on the treadmill, primarily because the track is stacked high with snow!  This week it’s been 90 degrees at 7 pm when I go running.  I still did my normally scheduled runs.  I’m nothing if not determined.  Once I’m in training, I just about never deviate from my schedule.  It really helps to choose a training plan and adhere to it.  Somehow it helps as a motivator.  An additional motivator is all those nasty toxins I’m sweating out of my body on a run like that.

This all relates to stepparenting and single parenting for me in one very simple way.  When you feel good about your body, you feel good about yourself and you are able to release all that stress that those two dynamics can build up.  It’s the one good thing that is for ME and me alone, that schedules right into my life.  It’s taken a long time, but everyone expects my running now.  No one feels it takes time away from them, the whole family is proud and my daughter loves coming to the track to time my speed workouts.  Before I remarried, I used to run on a treadmill almost all the time.  I didn’t race as much back then, but I got my running in.  It’s my sanity.  And probably part of the reason I’m very laid back and less stressed than most of my friends.  And when my daughter’s father manages to somehow get on my nerves (it happens occasionally, even now) running to some loud angry music really makes it all go away.  Really.

Anybody interested in running?  I’d love to help and give advice-I want to motivate all of you.  🙂  And for my runner friends, especially those fast ones, help motivate me to bust out a great half-marathon in October!

Training time again.

I always forget how hard it is to get used to being in training again for a half-marathon. Although I love the schedule and predictability (it really gets you out the door, because you certainly don’t want to be regretting not training enough when you get to the day before the race), I also forget how tired my body is at first.
And I actually keep a base level of at least 6 miles all year long and during non-training I run about 4-5 days a week, mixed in with all my other biking, rollerblading, swimming, etc.
Last night I woke up with sore feet. I knew it would happen when I came back from my long run for the week…my 2nd toe on my left foot has been harboring a blister and as I ran, I felt it starting to become bothersome. I’m gonna have to tape that baby down this week.
However, YAY, my track workout is tomorrow. And those, I really do love. While they are happening I’m sweaty and exhausted, but that exhaustion is so rejuvenating. A whole separate entity from the exhaustion of a long run.
While on the lake all weekend on our boat, I read the new Tana French book (Faithful Place) on my iPad. I also found some pain in the a$$ things about the iPad. It overheats when it is too warm and it’s impossible to read in bright sunlight or on the deck of the boat. Nevertheless the book was good. And I normally like classics or non-ficiton so this is high praise indeed. (Kid free weekends usually mean I’m on the lake-missing my girl but enjoying the husband).
Anyone else in training right now? By the way, the lovely M and M ice cream cookie sandwich I had while watching True Blood was a lovely treat post-run.

Not talking about underwear here, folks.

So on Monday, I finally succumbed to a temptation I’ve long harbored.  I went with a boy cut.  And my stylist said I’m her “most daring client”.  Granted, I wore my hair in a bun or pony nearly every day, so I knew basically what it would look like.  Needless to say it was heartwrenching to see my hair fall down and feel the lack of hair on the back of my head.  It’s funky and cute and very carefree.  I’ve done short hair before, but this is the shortest I’ve gone.  I Googled Jessica Stroup’s hair debuted in May 2010 (not her bob, but her newer pixie style crop) and loved it.  Brought the pic to my hairdresser and she worked her magic.  People are raving, I mean seriously raving, over my hair.  I like the way it makes my face look-but I’m still hesitant to say I’ll keep it.  I think I’m going to grow it out to be a bit more like Jessica Stroup’s hair prior to this cut…just a more comfortable length for me.  BUT, it was so cute in a wide cloth headband for my track workouts last night.  Which is so when you want to look good, right?  And I shaved a few seconds off my 400m intervals, on average.  That hair must have been holding me back.  I can tell myself that anyway.

My daughter really was not about my hair.  She’s getting used to it, only by the consolation that I gave her “It’s only hair honey.  Mine grows fast and I’ve always wanted to try this out…it’s just fun for a few months”.  She’s such a Taylor Swift loving long hair advocate.  And here, is a pic for you.

It looks different depending on what I do with it-that’s the neat part.  It can be so varied.  Today it’s girly and in a headband.  And it’s super, super, super easy.  Friends have mentioned how “brave” I am.  Really?  It grows.  I don’t think this constitutes bravery really.  It could be a bob by Christmas.  What do you guys think?  It’s lovely for running.  And since I’m officially on my training program for a half marathon again-it’s nice.  I love being in training…well at least the first 6-7 weeks of it.

Non-social runner…

I’m not usually a social kind of work out girl.  My running is very private and if I have shared a run with you, it speaks very highly of my relationship with you.  I did several training runs with my mother as she trained for her first half-marathon and met a lovely girl on MY first half-marathon with whom I ran with most of the way.  I run occasionally with my husband, especially weekend trail runs, but not so much training runs.

However last night was actually too hot for even me to run!  (Weather never stops me-but we are currently under heat advisory).  As I was ready to head out on my bike ride as a cross training method, I texted one of my oldest, dearest friends and told her I’d be down her way if she wanted to join.  She wrote right back that she’d be on the front porch.  Lucky me!  It’s about 3 miles to her house, so I met her (was greeted by a lovely ice cold tall glass of water and her company).  We then did about 5-6 miles together, chatting all the way and then I stopped at her porch again for more water and more excellent conversation and then headed back my way.  It was just about 12 miles of sweaty fun!  Even better, it was a social outing, which are all too few these days.  I don’t get to see my closest friends nearly enough.  (Yeah, I have skipped a few Girls Nights for the last few months).  Gone are the days when I would go out dancing and drinking for social interaction.  This totally kicked the skirt off of those days.  🙂  Thanks Di!  Totally different workout for me than running, but can’t wait for more-maybe next time I’ll make it a brick and still get a couple miles running in after.

(My lovely daughter was down the street swimming with my ex’s little brother and his family-she loves to get some time with her adorable two little cousins!  They even took her to get ice cream.  I’m very blessed to have such good ex-inlaws. 🙂 ).

Running.

Since I haven’t updated much in the last year or so, I really need to keep everyone up to speed about what is significant (and not) in my life.  Running is still very much a top priority.  And the kids and husband really help in that regard.  Here’s how:

Everything to do with our evenings and weekends is kind of built around my regular routine.  It’s not just me, my husband goes to the gym in the morning and that’s built in too.  But the kids are sleeping then, so they notice my absence more.  If I am a bit late getting out the door, there is no chance to backpedal, since they will often preface statements with…”When you get back from your run can I…”  or “Sunday after your long run can we go out on the lake?”.  Sometimes it’s the extra nudge I need.  And it’s always the break I need and I’m always happy and refreshed when I get home.  Usually, one of the kids or the husband will come down while I’m taking off my running shoes and get me a water.  It really IS a family affair.

I have now completed two half marathons since last October.  I love, love, love that distance.  It’s just right for me and the training is the only thing that I need to work out better.  I start too early and then am burnt out on following my schedule by the last two weeks before the race.  I’ve also done lots of smaller distances too and as a family we go to the fun runs that are taking place for  8 weeks in a nearby town.  My daughter (the 11 year old swim team member) is actually running 1 mile now at these runs and although I wouldn’t say she loves it-she wants to go each week!  The actual run she is ok with, but she really loves the atmosphere and how she feels after.  And that’s what I really wanted for her out of it anyway!  I haven’t been running the 5k trail runs they offer, because B wanted me to run the 1 mile trail run with her and there are plenty of other times I get my racing in.

And for the single parents and stepparents (two groups so dear to my heart), running (or walking or biking-whatever works for you) is so incredibly wonderful for YOU.  It’s a great time to just think and unwind and maybe listen to some music of your choosing.  It’s you time.  And you really need that in order to be a good mother or stepmother or father or stepfather.  Single parents, I know…it’s really tough for some of you to get out and hit the road.  Especially if you are really going it totally alone.  For my 5 single parenting years, I ran in the evenings on a treadmill while B played beside (at a safe distance) or ran when she was visiting grandparents or her Daddy.  As she got older, she rollerbladed or biked beside me.  My distances were less, but it was still wonderful for my physical and mental well-being.  I’d be happy to chat with you about how you can incorporate something similar into your lifestyle.  I firmly believe everyone should-we would all be happier people!  When I do get kind of cranky, my husband will say “ok honey…time to go for a run”. 🙂

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