geared-up runner girl

One of the things I love about running is the simplicity of it. Most people are born with everything they need to run. We don’t need fancy gear or equipment. I’ve actually “jogged” in my house… barefoot… before. Yes, as a workout, not just running to the pot that’s boiling over.

Of course, I do live during a time when runners have access to some pretty cool gear. When I laced up my running shoes as a teenager, I just ran. My distance was measured in “landmarks”.

“I’m going to run to the Jr. High and back.”

If I wanted to know the approximate distance, I might do the route in a car. Most of the time, I just ran till “I was done”.

Even though you really don’t need much to run, I thought I would do a post on the running gear I use the most. We’ll start with the most obvious… footwear.

Makes My Toes Smile!

I started wearing New Balance brand running shoes in high school. I don’t remember why we chose New Balance, I just know I liked them.

I few years ago I deviated from New Balance (because I didn’t like the colors that year). I tried Brooks… and ended up with plantar fasciitis (not fun). I think the salesman was just trying to unload that particular shoe and wasn’t looking for what was best for me.

From Brooks I went to Mizuno. I loved that pair of shoes, except for the sole of the heel. It had a huge gap that would get rocks lodged in it. And running in snow was horrible because it would build up in the gap. Every so often I would have to stop running to scrape out the rocks and/or snow. It was good for pavement running, but pitiful for trail running in the Rocky Mountains.newbalancepurple

So, I went back to New Balance and I’ve had 4 pair since the Mizunos. It’s time to replace my current pair. I wear a stability shoe for the pronation control. This means a heavier shoe, but that’s life. I’m not in love with the current colors, still, I ordered the purple ones. They won’t match anything in my running wardrobe… hmm, might be an excuse to pick up some new tops.

Another important part of footwear are the socks you choose. I’m kind of picky about my socks. I wear a thick running sock. I like the added support and the wicking power. I tried out a few different brands and styles before I settled on one. I only wear these socks in my running shoes.

Distance, Pace, & Cadence… Oh My!

My first “running gear” purchase as an adult (other than shoes) was a Timex Ironman watch. It would do intervals and other cool timing-type things. Of course, it couldn’t track my distance.

gpsIn 2010, I upgraded to a Garmin Forerunner 305. Sure, it’s bulky compared to modern versions, but I can fit a lot on that display. I’ve considered upgrading again, but this device has been pretty reliable. The main reason would be total vanity. The newer watches are super cute and more feminine (for a gps watch).

I can track distance, cadence, pace, splits, heart rate… and a whole bunch of other things. I can upload custom workouts and then follow the prompts during the run. This was really helpful during marathon Training.

Thanks to another handy Garmin device, I can use my watch at the indoor track too. This is particularly handy when we have slippery conditions outdoors. I won’t run on packed snow because I have twisted my knee doing so in the past. Yes, living in Colorado, I should probably invest in some running cleats, but I haven’t. I don’t need any added help in injuring myself.20150831_122143 (2)

Instead, we purchased Garmin foot pods. The added benefit of the foot pod is that it also tracks “steps per minute” (cadence). I’m not going to get into the reasons for having this information, but we do like having it.

When calibrated, the foot pod can also track my distance/pace on the indoor track. It’s pretty accurate too. Not as accurate as running outdoors with GPS, but it’s close enough and keeps me from resorting to a treadmill (fractured my foot years ago falling off a treadmill… um, yeah.)

Other Stuff…

There are other things I use like a hydration belt for long runs (which I won’t be doing for a bit), and proper clothing. Those are dependent on weather/distance so I’m not going to go into all of that until I need to. I have running sunglasses but I don’t wear them unless it’s really windy. It’s not fun to have dirt or bugs fly into your eyes at 25 mph.

So, that’s my short list of running gear. I’ll be posting the nitty gritty details of our first week returning to the trails on Sunday. Until then, may the trail rise up to meet you!

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returning runner girl

For years I ran for calorie burn. I ran so I could binge and not gain weight. I ran to punish myself for the binge. I ran because others didn’t. I ran so I could say, “I’m a runner”. Essentially, I ran for all the wrong reasons.

And then, after years of a love/hate relationship with running, I did this thing called “Marathon Training”, and my perspective changed. I couldn’t focus on weight loss during those months of training because when I under ate, I couldn’t run. I was running for a non-diet mentality goal. Unfortunately, the Dallas Marathon was cancelled that year due to an ice storm. All that work and we didn’t get to run the marathon. Such a disappointment. Yes, good did come from it, but one of the negatives was that it killed my desire to run. It was like running on the trails reminded me of the… dare I say it… grief.

I’ve attempted to resume running several times since, but have always quit before the beginner aches and pains stop. I’ve had excuses like adrenal fatigue (valid), illness, injury… and just plain “I can’t want to”.

I miss it though.

I miss the beauty of a trail run no matter the weather and the surprise wildlife sightings. I miss the sunrises and waving “hello” to fellow trail patrons. I miss the runs where my cadence falls in a natural rhythm and it feels effortless. I miss the quiet. I miss the finish lines. I miss that point where the daily aches subside and strength replaces them. I miss crying half-way through a run I didn’t feel like doing… and finishing it anyway. I miss the confidence and the added energy. I miss stretching at the end of a long run. I miss dirty running shoes and clothes soaking in “sport wash” to get the smell out. I miss the mental clarity. I miss working toward a fitness goal with the husband.

Yeah, I miss it. That last one especially.

So why am I not running? Because those weeks and months that it takes to build a base are not fun. There are more bad days than good in the beginning. Knees hurt, clothes rub, cadence is off, extra pounds jiggle, lungs burn… everything seems to scream “STOP!” It doesn’t take much to convince you to skip a run during this phase. Of course, growing the habit that keeps you running is made all the more difficult by these things… and we all know starting a habit is already harder than maintaining one.

I think I’m ready though because now I see I’ve been allowing a negative mind to rule in this area. I believe renewing my mind will be pivotal in this process. I know my paces are going to look grandma slow and I must be ok with this. I know it will take time to build the base and I must be patient. I know this means starting with a really basic training plan to, hopefully, make this transition period as painless as possible. Ok, maybe “painless” isn’t realistic. How about less pain.

The husband and I wrote out an 8 week plan today to gradually get us running 30 consecutive minutes 4 days a week. Yes, we could get up to 30 minutes in less than 8 weeks, but we’ve decided that we’ll treat ourselves like absolute beginners. We want running to be as enjoyable as possible and, well, debilitating soreness doesn’t have the appeal it did 20 years ago. If we learned anything from the Hanson Method, it was to allow the process, be patient, and easy runs should be easy. We’re not trying to impress anyone here.

At the end of the 8 weeks, we intend to sign up for a 5K. Nope, it’s not a marathon, but again, we’re treating ourselves like beginners. We want to get back in touch with the reasons we like to run… and that’s all.

I hope to post my progress through the plan on Sundays. I’ll be keeping track of overall distance and pace, as well as making notes about stretching, soreness, renewing the mind etc. I hope this will help others who want to begin running. So, keep an eye out next Sunday for the first week of training.

indomitable runner girl

I’ve had several seasons in my life where I greatly looked forward to a “prize” only to have it taken from me at the very last moment. My heart has resonated greatly with Proverbs 13:12 on more than one occasion.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick…”

Of course, I’ve also had times where got to experience the joy of a long awaited “hope” (marrying the Husband, births of my living children, surviving basic training…etc). These moments are better described by the second half of Proverbs 13:12:

“…but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”

This post isn’t about those. This post is about the disappointment, and sometimes devastation, that comes when the bottom drops out of your plans. To date, none has been more devastating than waiting 42 long weeks for the arrival of my son, only to say “good bye”, but even less tragic events can send me into a tailspin of “why God?” Which brings me to my plans to run a marathon. If you’ve been following along, you know I had my share of set-backs along the training path. There were times when I wasn’t sure I’d even make it to the start line due to injury. I even had moments where I wanted to quit out of sheer fatigue. Of all the scenarios I imagined for race day, the one that occurred was not even on my radar.

I was baffled as to why God allowed me to train for months for a race that, ultimately, would be cancelled due to a freak ice storm. Nine days later, I still cannot wrap my brain around it. Our family ended up iced in at my parents’ house for days and boy did I sulk. I wanted to be able to say I’d run a marathon. I trained hard for it. I felt I deserved the prize. I was angry. I pitched a fit in a prayer to God (well, more than one). “It’s not fair!”

Of course, God didn’t “un-cancel” the marathon for me or the Husband no matter how poorly I behaved. Initially I thought, “What’s the point in striving for something? Why should I bother setting goals?” In my tantrum state I wanted to announce that I shall never run again, and I’m going to quit TaeKwonDo for good measure. “I probably won’t get the black belt anyway,” I thought. Geesh, yeah, I was really in a mood. However, the more the Husband and I processed this, the more we came to the conclusion that God is sovereign, and He does have a plan whether we perceive it or not.

I also thought about the five tenets of TaeKwonDo… namely the last one, “indomitable spirit.” I looked up the word indomitable and quickly realized there was absolutely nothing indomitable about the attitude I had. In fact, I felt quite defeated, conquered, and vulnerable. Now, I don’t know how the TKD powers that be intend “indomitable spirit” be interpreted, but my take on it is that God’s presence is the only thing “indomitable” about my own spirit. Without Him, I’d be stuck in that discouraged place. I can choose to recognize that God is undaunted by the cancelling of a marathon, and He has a greater plan at work… a plan that is for my good no matter how much I might like to protest to the contrary.

Lord willing, I shall run again soon. I don’t plan to train for another marathon this coming year because, Lord willing, I shall train for and earn that black belt in 2014. I’m not giving up, but I am changing my perspective on where the true power to press on comes from. And so, through not running the marathon, I discovered that, in Christ, I truly am an indomitable runner girl.

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adapting runner girl

I’m a recovering perfectionist, and as such, I still get really annoyed when I can’t follow a plan perfectly. I’ve had setbacks during this season of marathon training, and just when I thought I was on the other side… enter another one. I am amazed that something so small as a toe could wreak so much havoc on my training. I don’t even know what is wrong with it, but wearing a closed toe shoe makes me want to scream. Add some impact and, oh my stars, just kill me now.

bikergirlI’m also rather stubborn, so you know there is no way I’m skipping workouts. Instead, I adapted them. The day before our 16 mile long run, I rode the spin bike at the gym. Miraculously I was able to do the final 16 mile run on the trail (thank you, Lord), but now my toe is swelled up again. I’ve had to get a little creative because I couldn’t wear a shoe the day after that long run. My legs felt fine, so, I walked/jogged in bare feet with Leslie Sansone for six miles. Today, still too painful for impact, I biked two straight hours at the gym, attempting to mimic the “strength” run on the schedule. The toe still hurt during these workouts, but not nearly as bad as running on it. My concern is if I attempt to run, and favor it at all, then I could potentially cause another injury in the process. I guess I figure it’s better to purposefully adapt the workout than allow my body to unconsciously adapt my running gait to avoid pain.

Of course, I’ve never run a marathon before, and I have no idea how all of this will translate to my performance on the day of the race… provided I even make it to the start line. Still, I’m taking comfort in Deena Kastor’s story in Spirit of the Marathon. She sustains an injury that doesn’t allow full weight/impact on her foot. She continues to train, but adapts it to pool running and stationary bikes. Now, I don’t have access to one of those pool treadmills she uses in the movie, but I do have access to bikes (and a lap pool). I don’t want to spoil the ending of the movie for you, so I’ll just say that Deena does make it to the marathon. Obviously she’s a professional, Olympic, record-holding athlete and I’m a slow mom-lete running for a “finisher” t-shirt at my first marathon, but I’m encouraged by her story nonetheless.

jumpergirlI’d love to have some kind of guarantee that I’ll get to run this marathon, and that it will be a pleasant experience (I didn’t say “easy”), but I know that I’m not going to get that kind of reassurance. What I do have is faith, which is a different kind of reassurance. Only God knows how this thing is going to turn out, and unless He stops me entirely, I’ll use minor injuries to exercise the faith of this adapting runner girl.

“We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.” ~ Romans 8:28 (AMP)

hungry runner girl

PeakatTheAcademySo, I’m still running… and running. We’re down to the homestretch of this marathon training plan (Hansons), and I’ve gone through a myriad of emotions. There was a moment a few weeks ago where I actually googled “I hate marathon training” to see if there were any others out there who shared my misery. I came upon a post that was actually titled “I hate marathon training”. I probably would have laughed all the way through it, but at the time all I could do was nod in agreement with a “preach it, sister” thrown in. I thought about pecking out a blog post under a similar title, but too cold and tired to think, opted for a nap instead.

I’ve graduated past the place of hating the training. I’m sure that has to do with the leg injury healing (finally). I didn’t realize how awful I felt during my runs until it went away. Now I’m dealing with traumatized toes and constant hunger. The balance between under-eating and overeating seems elusive. I have learned that eating a late dinner does not make for a pleasant early morning run (ugh).

We’ve got our final 16 mile training run coming up this weekend. Although we’re nearing the end, I can’t seem to reach that point of excitement at the prospect. I suspect the reason for this is the looming 26.2 mile finish line I must cross first. When the husband says something like, “We only have 4 more SOS workouts till the marathon,” it seriously stresses out this hungry runner girl.

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recovering runner girl

The day after my last post, something really cool happened. Up until this point I was doing a lot of stretching, resistance, and stationary bike, so when I had yet another day where I knew God was telling me to ride the bike, I ended up face down on the ground crying to Him about my leg. I told Him that if He was asking if I would still love Him if I didn’t get to do the marathon, the answer was “yes”. I told Him that I felt I had proven as much by still loving Him despite the death of my son. Missing the marathon would pale in comparison to such grief. He told me to trust Him, to have faith that He is in control.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. ~ Hebrews 11:1

I stood up and had no pain in my leg. I couldn’t help but praise the Lord. And then the thought crossed my mind that I could do my run that day. Yes, God had told me to ride the stationary bike, but that was before this miracle. I hopped around the bathroom gathering my running clothes and suddenly felt a tinge shoot through my leg. This stopped me dead in my tracks, I bowed my head and said, “I’m going to ride the bike.”

A friend told me about KT Tape, so I bandaged up my leg for added support, and the following day I resumed running. My leg isn’t 100%, but it is holding up really well (approx 46 running miles in the last 8 days). At the start of this training, I wanted to focus on fully relying on God to accomplish this. I even made a bracelet as a reminder. I lost sight of that, and so He got my attention. I’m thankful to now be a recovering runner girl… both physically and spiritually.

10milesunriseThen will the righteous (those who are upright and in right standing with God) shine forth like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let him who has ears [to hear] be listening, and let him consider and perceive and understand by hearing. ~ Matthew 13:43 (AMP)

wannabe runner girl

Since my injury on Sunday, I’ve struggled to keep my spirits up about all of this. On Monday I skipped TKD but skated for an extra hour hoping that I could work my legs without the impact of running. It was painful. Still, I thought I would be running on Tuesday… nope. I spent most of that day with my leg propped up being iced or heated, while alternating stretching and strengthening exercises throughout the day. I watched a lot of TV in the hopes of “escaping” my depressing thoughts. Using the foam roller on my leg brought tears to my eyes. I do understand why my husband finds this so funny. I too laugh when he screams while using it. There’s just something about seeing a grown adult willingly inflict pain on himself while involuntarily screeching.

Wednesday was more of the same… ice, heat, stretching, resistance, pilates, foam roller… but much less TV. That morning I received notification of Beth Moore’s latest blog post and it was exactly what I needed. She asked the question “What’s undone?” I could have listed a dozen things, but I wrote down six. I’m behind on my Bible reading schedule and the Daniel study I should have finished by now. So, I got to work reading and studying while I did all that sitting. I wonder if the Lord allowed my training to come “undone” for a few days to show me that I’d allowed it to overtake higher priorities. Probably.

So, this morning, the leg still hasn’t fully recovered… and now I’ve got an infection in my eye (also related to that Sunday 10 mile run), but I got up and spent time in God’s Word before other stuff. Despite not feeling well, the Husband urged me to at least try the spin bike today for some cardio (in addition to the strength and stretch stuff). This wasn’t in a class setting (which I like), it was a bike by a big window. Staring at the same thing for 45 minutes was rough, so I tried to focus on the music pumping through my headphones.

My leg seemed to tolerate the bike without much discomfort. Hopefully I won’t be a wannabe runner girl for much longer.

injured runner girl

Could you hear my screams of frustration yesterday? After my first 10 miler of this training plan, I couldn’t put weight on my right leg without significant pain… not soreness, PAIN. I’m still trying to figure out the issue. My leg began to hurt a few days ago, so I changed out my shoes hoping to avoid injury due to wearing worn out shoes (been there too many times). Saturday went well so I figured the change of shoes was the answer. Sunday was a whole different ballgame though. I spent the rest of the day after the run icing and resting my leg in hopes of making it out for my run this morning. Unfortunately, my early morning hobble to the bathroom proved too painful for a six mile run.

I sulked… pouted… threw a mini fit on the bathroom floor… and finally prayed. Someday I’d really like to think about putting prayer before (or in lieu of) my pitiful bratty behavior.

The Husband put on his running shoes as I hobbled down the stairs. One of the kids asked if I was running too… frown…. “not today”. I continued to the weight bench in the basement where I began work with some lower body strengthening (mainly leg lifts & calf raises). Next, I did pilates. It does feel a bit better after the strength workout, but still too painful for impact. I pulled out my Hanson’s Marathon Method book and read up on their suggestions for altering the plan due to injury. If I still can’t do impact tomorrow, I’ll probably hit the stationary bike at the gym, or maybe “run” in the pool.

As of now, I’m injured and praying that it’s short lived.

dedicated runner girl

trailrun3As many already know, Colorado has been hit by a barrage of rain. Many surrounding areas are flooding. At our house, we’re OK, just really wet these days. Of course, rain poses some issues for the runner… especially the trail runner. Parts of our trails have dangerous run off trenches, which makes running in the dark rather precarious. After our speed workout on a local track, we opted to go back to the track for our tempo run two days later because of how wet the trails were. Two days on a harder surface was bad enough, but with a torrential downpour during our running time the next day, we ended up at an indoor track (13 laps equaling a mile). Fifty two laps later and our joints were screaming (it was an easy run day). I couldn’t wait to get back on the trail… even with the hills.

Next came our first of back to back 8 milers. We opted for the trail. All was going fine. The Lord even delighted me when five deer bounded over a hill to my left, crossed the trail right in front of me and leaped effortlessly up the hill to my right. They were absolutely beautiful. I smiled and ran on until I came to a really steep decline with deep run off ruts. I knew the risk of going down it far outweighed my desire to continue in that direction. Even a twisted ankle could mean no starting line at the marathon for me. So I turned around… and this is where it became difficult. Usually, turning around means I’m on the home stretch for the finish line, but that wasn’t the case and let’s face it, eight miles is already long for this girl. I made a big circle hoping to eat up some more mileage before turning back. The circle was almost a mile, but it felt like so much longer. It was humid now, and it felt as though my shoes were sticking to the trail (mud maybe?). My legs hurt, my mind screamed at me to quit, and my stomach cramped (tried a new gel). I told myself that I’m supposed to be slower on the “easy” runs, but I wasn’t convincing. Slower means it takes longer and I know that full well. When I came over the hill and saw the Husband and the end, I was so glad to be done… but then dread set in over the next day’s scheduled 8 miler.

trailrun1The next day, we overslept, which was a huge mistake for my mental game. Oversleeping meant we couldn’t get in eight miles before church and would have to do it after. Oversleeping also meant it would likely be a rainy run. Plus, I had plenty of time to dread the pain. That afternoon, we walked out to the trail, freezing with drops of rain pelting us in the wind. The Husband was concerned that we risked getting sick so we opted to hit the treadmill instead. I hate treadmills. He went to the Y and I went to the basement. After a half mile on my treadmill, I knew there was no way I would hang in for eight. No amount of music would keep my attention that long, and there wouldn’t be the motivator of being away from the house with no choice but to suck it up and run home. I went upstairs and had the Son write down a description of what I was wearing, what time I left and what direction I went (you can never be too cautious). Within moments I was out the door running. Oh the wind and rain were cold. I kept going. It began to feel like a baptism of sorts. Stress and anger and anxiety melted away. I walked a couple of times to take pictures because it felt like I was running in the clouds.

trailrun2Surprisingly, my pace on the second 8 miler was better than the first (despite taking pictures). Plus, it was the fourth consecutive day of running (7, 4, 8, 8) so my legs are really fatigued. I guess technically I did 8.5 miles yesterday including the treadmill. I’m not as sore as one would think, but tired for sure. In the past I’ve often made comments about runners out in the rain or snow. This time I was that “dedicated runner girl”.

crazy busy runner girl

Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve posted out here. I guess I’ve been living beyond the blog in a space called “real life” that runs me from one task to the next without stopping for hobby breaks. By the time I finish dinner and clean the kitchen, I’m moments from the crash. Once I stop, I’m out. The only reason I have this particular moment is because ice skating was cancelled today and I’m resting my dog tired legs for a few minutes (speed intervals this morning).

I haven’t been 100% raw for a while now, but I’m still vegan and high raw. I’ve tried to figure out how to eat while training for this marathon (timing and volume). It’s a tricky thing to be sure. It doesn’t take much to overeat (because I often feel ravenous after a run), or even to under eat (because I get busy and forget to eat). I’m focusing primarily on whole food – plant based options, and most days that goes pretty well. I’m still overweight, which annoys me because I can’t run as fast as I could if I were lighter. The slower you go, the longer the runs take. So, clearly I’d prefer to be faster.

race

Yesterday, the Husband and I started week six of our 18 week training plan. Week six is a pivotal shift in the Hanson’s Marathon Method because you begin speed and tempo workouts. Today was our first speed workout and it came on the sixth consecutive running day. What does that mean? It means you are starting speed intervals on tired legs. Well, I thought they were tired when I began today’s workout, but that was mild fatigue compared to how they feel now. Tomorrow is our one day off from running this week. Oh how I’m looking forward to it.

I’ve been running off and on for years, but this plan is unlike anything I’ve done before. I’ve done the typical half-marathon training plans…well, until they were interrupted by injuries that is. Yes, normally I would be injured by this point in a training schedule. I can’t even tell you how many I started but was unable to finish. I’d still do the race, but not up to par and under-trained. I didn’t like the long runs being a large percentage of the overall weekly mileage. Hanson’s is very different. Yes, they have a long run, but you run a lot of miles during the week too. Here I am, almost a third of the way through Hanson’s plan and I’m actually enjoying it (for the most part). Yesterday, after running four miles and doing a one hour TKD class, I was driving home and thought, “A nice easy run sounds good right now.” Say what? Clearly the Hanson mentality that “easy” runs are active “recovery” is sinking in. I wanted to run to “recover” from my hectic day. I didn’t go for that run, because I didn’t have time for it and I had an hour on the ice coming up, but I was shocked that I even had the desire to run MORE mileage than was required.

One downside to all the training is the fatigue. Along with fatigue comes plenty of opportunity to rely on God for the strength to hold back the crabbiness. Victory only happens about half the time right now (I pitched a mini fit last night that I could tell spent the last of the Husband’s energy too), but I’m getting lots of practice turning to God and offering apologies to the darling ones who must live with this crazy busy… tired… runner girl.