# The Running Tax: What would Uncle SaMiles as you as payment of your annual running?

So for all of us in the US of A, April brings taxes and it got me wondering what if there were a similar sort of taxing system that was applied to our running and working out. Would you have to rack up a yearly total of our miles? A tally of the minutes, hours, eternities spent sweating…then pay back some kind of dividend?

I'm sooo happy to pay taxes!! Umm...not. (Art: Cait Chock)

* Total yearly miles: Calculate just how many of those 1,609 meter’ers you busted out and you will be asked to pay back 15% on top of a set base rate of 100 miles.

* Races: Races act as deductions; the total number of races you ran for the year when multiplied by 10 will be the percentage deducted. For every new PR you set that will act as a 20% deduction off of total owed.

* Are you married: For people who are married (this runnerchick will INCLUDE everyone here, same sex couples are counted.) you will be even a credit if some of those miles were in fact run together. The total number of shared miles will be deducted from what you owe.

* Any kids: If you’ve got kids and they are active in a sport, for every sport your child or children are in will also be accredited as a deduction in the value of a percent. Example- a child who participates in three sports will be a 3% deduction.

* Community service and donations: Got dead running shoes? If you’ve donated them to a worthy charity or cause, done a re-use a shoe recycling program, or even bought shoes for a running program you will be offered a deduction.

* Cross-training and other workouts: We all get injured and for those times cross-training is in order you will instead calculate time spent sweating. We will then correlate 10 minute increments to be tallied as a mile. For core, yoga, pilates, gym, weights, plyometrics, etc. you will count one mile as 20 minutes.

Time to pay up. Once your head is about as dizzy as your legs would be after 100 miles run around a track you will be expected to pay back your total due. This total is owed to help support the running community and can be given back in a number of ways.
* Seek out the people who yell at runners from their cars and force them to swallow 200 Gu’s in a single sitting. Each person is counted as 15 payments.

* Giving one stick of Body Glide to a chaffing runner will count as 1 payment.

* Find anyone running in a pair of Converse shoes, jeans, or similarly ridiculous attire and point them in the direction of their nearest running shoe store…this is akin to acting as an EMT worker getting a patient to the hospital. Each person is 10 repayments.

* Praises to a struggling runner during a run or race is counted as 1 payment of service. We all have crappy runs and the motivational support of even a stranger at times can keep us going until the next step…the next mile…the finish.

We've all been there...

* Payments can be bought; every Dollar spent towards foodage on post-run, post-race, post-sweaty refuel of another runner counts as one repayment. That amount is doubled for any money spent on fuel or drinks reserved for aid stations at races.

Audits, cheats, and mile law dodgers: If your annual miles logged seems supsect or you have been lying about your PR’s you will be subject to an audit. Nobody likes a person who isn’t honest on their weekly miles or the person who tries to continually one-up anyone else…it isn’t always a competition in volume, PR’s can speak for themselves, and in the end you’re only running for yourself so who are you trying to impress? For people found guilty of lying, padding their totals, or any other kind of shifty behavior you will be publicly humiliated. We all work hard for those sweat filled minutes, the miles of exertion, of bliss, of agony, of dedication, of perseverance, and of gratification and cheaters just cheapen it for all of us.

Punishment is to wear a sign that you are in fact a mile lier and you will be expected to pay back the full amount due to the running community times two.

1) What would you like to add to our Running Tax System?

2) Do you keep track of your total miles, cross-training minutes, core, weights, etc.? Do you have a training log?

3) How would you give back to the running community?

4) What do you think should be done to people who lie about their workouts, times, or turn weekly totals into an overly competitive sport and just try to outdo you for the sake of outdoing you?

# Back to Running After a Long Hiatus and Tackling GI Distress For Runners

Here’s what you relearn every time you get back to running after a long hiatus:

When you hit that slap of back to running reality it's a combo of pain and ecstasy to be back. :)

* Cross-training is just that.
Nothing is the same as running, mentally and physically, and while you’re a world better off doing that tedious cross-training, it’s still a cold slap of reality when you get back to the real deal. Hello, muscles, almost forgot about you until you were sore again.

* Thank you muscle memory. That slap of reality stinks but it’s kind of crazy how the hazing period isn’t that long…thankfully the longer you’ve been a runner the more your muscles remember how to slip back into runner mode. Push past those initial harder than they really should be runs and you start getting back to your self.

* Nothing clears you out like running. Forget Activia or colonics, sorry if I err on the side of TMI, but it’s true, running keeps you regular.

This segues into my topic for today…the guts, the intestines, and GI issues on the run. I know some of us runners are ‘blessed’ with more than our fair share of these troubles and I’m one of them. Sometimes it’s totally unpredictable and you just do a slight prayer to the running Gods before each hard workout, race, or long run that you won’t have a GI disaster.

The tricky thing with these types of things is that they are different for everyone and really tough to nail down a remedy for. Experts suggest:

* Eating bland foods that sit easy in the stomach. You could call these ‘low residue’ foods, they don’t have much bulk (read as fiber). Examples would be plain, white rice; Dathan Ritzenhein goes to this before his big races because he knows that is what works for him. Other athletes find that drinking their last meal of caloric intake keeps them safe; just make sure it’s a drink that is more than just electrolytes and actually has carbohydrates and sustenance.

* Don’t over-eat. I have a very temperamental stomach and to be quite frank like to run first thing in the morning before breakfast. If I were training and had a hard workout I’d get up earlier and have some oatmeal, but it would have to be a few hours before. Planning your meals helps, and you can revisit my article about ‘Timing Your Fuel’ in Running Times.

Real book, I made it, you want one? :)

* Eating on the run. If you’re training for a marathon or doing a really long workout things get even more complicated. During exercise the blood is being sent to your muscles doing the work and all the energy being spent is geared towards getting you to perform; this means that there isn’t the extra blood supply to then go to your stomach and start doing a ton of digesting. For this reason that’s why sometimes people can get into trouble eating just too much during their event; estimates are that you should consume roughly 200 calories per hour of exercise if you’re running more than one hour but everyone is different. Again, liquids are your friend.

* The night before. I know going into a morning run the possibilities that there will be a pit-stop in order are much higher if I’ve eaten a certain kind of food the night before and had a bit more than my fair share. I’ll call it the “Well, I know I’ll pay for it later but it’s worth it right now” effect. Today’s run was brought to the OD of Entenmann’s cheese filled coffee cake last night…but it was worth it.

* Other remedies. I’ve talked to people who swear by this or that supplement, I’ve known people who have had their GI problems solved by acupuncture, there were periods where I’d have to pop an Imodium before every hard workout or long run and it seemed to help. If you’ve suffered with this issue enough you’re willing to try or do anything.

Even with all of this there is never a sure bet. Every GI sufferer sympathized with poor Paula Radcliffe during her marathon pit-stop and it proves that 1) don’t be ashamed to talk about these things because nearly every runner has experienced it 2) don’t make fun of people pulling the bush dive, Karma is a bi*** 3) we’ve been there and if nothing else, try to laugh at yourself, it’s the only way to keep on going.

Still, even after all of these slaps of back to running reality (seriously, the last pain free running this runnerchick got in was somewhere around Halloween!) it is SO worth it, gurgly guts, sore muscles, and all!

1) What’s the longest you’ve gone without running? Did you cross-traing during that time?

2) What’s one ‘slap of back to running reality’ you have?

3) Do you have stomach or GI issues? What have you tried and what works for you?

4) Is there a certain ‘trigger food’ that you know will set off your stomach? Are there times when you throw caution to the wind and dig in anyways??
Pretty sure we all do it, I’ve got a friend who is nearly Lactose intolerant but orders up the biggest sized Blizzards if she’s sure an easy day is on tap for the next day.

# Runners are Hot: Staying hydrated and running when the temperatures rise

You’re starting to sweat and you haven’t even started running yet.It’s hot. Summer is fast approaching and good old, Mr. Sun is making his appearance. It doesn’t feel like long ago you were suited up in full running tights, long-sleeves, and gloves and now you’re donning a sports bra, shorts, and still feel over-dressed.

The heat will zap your energy...

Heat is a touch competitor, and if you’ve been following any of the Boston Marathon buzz it was getting rather toasty over there for those runners. When there had been talk of World Records being set weeks ago that tune started changing when weather conditions started to become a factor. A little ironic being that this was the 30 year anniversary of the epic race between running greats Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley, rightly coined the ‘Duel in the Sun’, where a combination of heat and an all out racing effort changed both runners forever.

The thing about racing in tough conditions is that EVERYONE is effected, so while you’re suffering so is everyone else. However, getting acclimated to such stressors will greatly improve your ability to perform in them. As excruciating as it may be to even think about, that’s why before the Beijing Olympics some top athletes went running at the hottest time of the day and donned full sweats or sauna suits. They also would weigh themselves before and after to see how much fluid they lost due to sweat and made sure to replace that; it’s 16 ounces (2 cups) of water and electrolyte containing drinks you need to drink for every pound of body weight lost.

Dehydration is dangerous and crippling performance wise, but it works against you not just on THAT day but it’s also a cumulative thing. You need to be consistently hydrating yourself every day; if you never drink enough and then pound a ton of water the day of your race it really isn’t going to be doing you any favors. (A side note, you could actually end up over-hydrating which can be just as dangerous if your electrolyte balances become too low.)

We’ve all heard that fun little pee-test scenario, you want your urine to be as clear as possible not bright yellow.

On those days you wish you were at the beach so you could jump in the water...

For every day training, when summer comes along I’ll admit to not being all too stoked to head out in 110 degree weather for my run. I get all salt crusty and come back looking like I’ve been out swimming, true story I’ve been asked that before.

Best things I try to do during those hot summer days:

* Less is more. I long ago got over being afraid to don just a sports bra and shorts, it’s not worth suffering. I even envy the guys who can go on full-shirtless style…lol.

* Go early or go late. Don’t run during the hottest time of the day if you can avoid it. Unless you’re racing at that time and trying to get acclimated, be safe and do yourself a favor and catch the cooler temps if you can.

* Drink like a fish. Not of the alcoholic variety, duh, but make sure especially during these times you’re extra conscious of your fluid intake. That’s both water and electrolyte containing drinks. If you have to, weight yourself before and after a run to see how much you’re sweating out just in that run.

* Toting hydration.I don’t normally run with a water bottle but if you’re going out in extreme conditions or for long workouts think about that option. If you’re at the track grab some sips between intervals or if you’re on a run you can make planned stops where you know drinking fountains are.

Be prepared if you know race day is going to be toasty.

For races you know you’re going to be in hot conditions:

* Seek shade.Heat isn’t just energy zapping while you’re running but also if you’re just standing or sitting in the sun for hours on end. Try to stay in the shade, or inside, as long as you can prior to your race.

* Know your body and your distance. Everyone is able to handle heat less or better than the next person, know if heat is your krytonite and be smart. The longer you distance is the more you may want to hit up those drink stations. You may also need to reassess your racing plan or goal time.

* Double don’t go out to fast. Heat slows times and it will also exponentially kick you in the butt if you go out faster than you should in a race or any run for that matter. Go out conservative if you know it’s a scorcher.

* Training simulation. Getting back to becoming accustomed to racing conditions, you may be well off to take measures prior to your big race to get acclimated to those conditions. You don’t necessarily have to strap on a sauna suit, but do some of your runs and workouts at the same time as your race will be and at the same temps you’ll be racing at.

* Still warm-up. Don’t skip a warm-up just because it’s hot and you think you’re warm enough already…that’s not smart. Do your same routine, go a little slower if you have to, but still get your body primed and ready to run fast for your event.

We can’t control the conditions outside but we should take measures to best prepare ourselves to sweating it out in them. On that one, let’s raise a water-bottle in a toast to getting toasty.

1) Do you like running or working out in the heat or cold more?
I’m a weenie, I like running in ideal weather all the time.

2) What do you run in on really hot days?

3) If you know it’s going to be really hot for you run or your race what do you do to prep for it?

4) Do you pee clear? Actually, are you really good about being hydrated?
I do and I am.

5) If you hit up the gym do you like to have a fan blasting on you?
A necessity, I wish I could hire one of those big ones they use for photo shoots sometimes.

# The Boston Marathon, Treadmill Marathons, and *Gasp* I Ran…

Is there some kind of race going on in Boston this weekend? Just kidding, as this Sunday Monday (wow, sorry for the total brainfart there!) will be of course the Boston Marathon. This race is rich in history and has a running legacy all it’s own.

In the minds of many marathon runners it’s an epitome of sorts as they chase the entry times just to get to the line. From the mid-packers excited just to BE there to the elites, Boston also often promises fast times, which became quite the controversy last year with the fastest ever marathon times run but then not being counted as ‘official’ World Records. Not that there hasn’t been controversy with Boston times in the past; because Boston’s course, while noted for some epic uphills, overall has an elevation drop. You can get some awesome Boston Coverage HERE and HERE.

Source
But today in Boston Michael Wardian is attempting the World Record for the treadmill marathon, that record time is set at 2:21:40. As of now the results are staying tight lipped, but I’m going to venture to guess he beat it…the man’s a beast in all the best ways.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve noticed but for the last, oh, four or five months there hasn’t been much personal running talk from this Arty Runnerchick. Actually you could have started to dub the site The Cranky, Injured, Runner-Envious Arty Runnerchick if you really started reading between the lines…haha. I jest, and I’ve done all I could to stay positive but it’s been a loooooong time since I was able to get in a run. The memory of pain-free running was a distant, far off memory circa 2011; though I’ve been through this song and dance in the past with injuries and the ONLY way to get through them is to take it a day at a time, stay the course, laugh when it really stinks, and get on the blasted cross-training machine.

Miracle beyond all miracles I was able to give a little love to my treadmill this morning, albeit for a short run and I’m hardly out of the woods yet with this left foot debacle, but I have to say I feel like a better person. I’ve still got to stay a close to the ball and chain elliptical too, but there is NOTHING like running.

So let’s end this with a smile…

Call Hallmark, it's getting cheesy in here...

And a few vows that should apply to us all:

* I will not take any mile for granted, I will be thankful for each sweaty, hard fought one and know that I’m lucky to be able to run them.

* I will be SMART. I won’t make all the mistakes of newbie, excited, eager, and mile greedy runners and rush things. I will also be proactive to prevent injuries any way I can and I’ll listen to my body.

* I’ll remember that injuries will always be a part of running and remember that when the next one hits I’ll get through it just like I have before.

* I’ll pay it forward to other runners in the wee ways I can. I’ll sympathize with the injured, remind them to stay the course, and celebrate their victories in steps back to full running health.

Happy Saturday and hope you made it a little (or a lot) sweaty!

1) Are you racing this weekend?

2) Do you have aspirations to run Boston or any other particular race that stands out in your mind as the epitome of it all?

3) Would you, could you, run a treadmill marathon? Are you a treadmill running fan?

4) What’s one vow you have to make in regarding staying healthy, running, or fitness in general that applies to you?

5) How did you get your sweat on today?

# How Did I Get Roped Into This Whole Running Thing? – Why We Run and a Sweaty Announcement

Why do you do it? I’m sitting here just finishing off a piece on my ‘Aha Fitness Moment’ and trying to pinpoint the moment I fell in love with running. I’ll share a bit more on why I’m writing this in a minute, but bear with me for a second.

I was really stuck on the ‘Aha Moment’ thing because I don’t really think of it like a single, angels singing in the background, moment of clarity that struck me like one of Zeus’s lightening bolts. (How many cliches could I work in there? Hehe) I’d say for me it was more of a transition…

…I HATE you running, what perverse PE teachers makes us just run around for no reason?

…So now I’m roped onto this running team because I have no coordination and got cut from all the sports teams my friends are on. Okay, well fine.

…If I’m going to be here then I’m going to at least try and be the best, that girl is faster than me, okay, well let’s just chase her and see how it goes.

…Obviously I didn’t train enough because I’m hunkered over this bush after crossing the finish line, so now maybe I’ll just actually run a little more and see if I can get in better shape. (small victory, I actually never tossed my cookies, only thought I was going too…hehe.)

…This running this is awesomely. I’m addicted.

End of story.

Today I call myself an obsessive compulsive runner…in many ways I’m not sane but I know running at least holds those threads together.

You’ll eventually get to read the piece I put together because I was able to scrounge up a moment of clarity. You’ll be able to read it, I’ll let you know when, because of my new role as one of the Sweat Pink Ambassadors. I’m very excited to join an amazing group of women who share a passion for all sports, yes, even those that aren’t running related.

As an ambassador I’ll continue to share what tips, advice, and sweat related tidbits I’ve got as well as do all I can to encourage all of my readers to follow and achieve their own fitness related endeavors. To set your own goals and get after them. I think a great thing about running, writing, art, blogging and all that we do it offers up a chance to interact with a new community; I feel fortunate to be invited to yet another community, and one that Sweats Pink. The Sweat Pink motto is one I can fully get behind, because as you know I’m a self-described sweaty, obsessive, compulsive runner.

1) Do you have an ‘Aha Fitness Moment’ yourself?

2) If not a moment, then what was your transition into finding your own fitness passion like?

3) If you are a runner, how did you get into the sport? Was it like me and because you literally stunk it up at everything else??

4) Are you going to sweat a bit of pink yourself?? Actually, you can head on over to FitApproach and check out a new place I’ll be contributing to. You can also follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest as well…ummm, because I know all of you already follow me on those…haha, jk. Also, if you’re interested in rocking out some pink shoelaces let me know and I’ll see if I can make that happen.

5) What is going on for you this weekend and how are you getting your sweat on?

# Do This, Not That the Running Edition Part I: Simple Tips But They Make a Big Difference

Some guy is off making millions off of his ‘Do This/Not That’ style books, well I think I’ll take the premise and apply it to running and training.

* Instead of…crying every time you have to shell out the big bucks for a new pair of running shoes, DO THIS: buy your shoes two at a time then alternate between the two. Why? Doing this will prolong the life of both of the shoes and in the end save you the green stuff. Don’t know the ‘life span’ of your shoe, revisit my post on that HERE. Bonus, if your favorite pair of shoes happen to be on sale, stock up and buy even more than two.

* Instead of…wasting your time stretching before your run or workout, DO THIS: use the first couple of minutes, or mile, of your run as a warm-up and ease into the pace. Stretching cold muscles can actually cause you to rip or tear them and lead to an injury, some reports even claim that pre-warm-up stretching could limit your muscle strength and workout potential. Only stretch your muscles AFTER they have been working and have had a chance to warm-up. Often we’re pressed for time anyways, use what precious ‘extra’ time you have to stretch or do core after you get your run or cardio in.

* Instead of…watching the minutes slowly click by on the treadmill while you plod along at the same pace, DO THIS: vary your workout or run every couple of minutes, mile, or half mile. Do an interval workout or make it a hill repeat sessionfor your hard days and the time flies by. But even on the easy days, play with the pace and incline every so often, it doesn’t have to be by a huge degree but you don’t need to stay stuck in the same pace rut the whole run. This not only makes for a better workout but it helps beat treadmill dreadmill mental burn-out too.

Don't peek at every second or it will drag on foreverrrrrrrrrrrrrrr...

* Instead of…sabotaging your race or workout from the start with the kiss of death by going out too fast, DO THIS: aim for even splits or even better, negative splits. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement, or be tempted to try and ‘give yourself a cushion’ by being under pace early, but it will bite you in the butt. The body, physiologically, runs more efficiently if you go the negative split route. Plus, you want to be the person out-kicking people at the end, not the one getting passed as you stagger to the line.

* Instead of…ruining your love of the sport with self-imposed pressure or a bum attitude, DO THIS: remember why you run. If you don’t like it then move on and find something you like better instead. It’s easy to get so focused on your goals that you suck the passion and joy out of it by just being too stressed and taking it too seriously. If you have to, chuck the watch and don’t worry about splits sometimes, don’t worry about the pace of your easy runs and just run to recover and for pleasure, and MOST importantly upon accomplishing a goal SAVOR it. Relish those moments of achievement before looking on to the next goal. Keep running forward, but always take a moment to reflect on each benchmark goal you hit along the way.

* Instead of…repeating the same mistakes over and over again, DO THIS: learn from them! So easy in theory, but sometimes it’s tempting to fall back into a bad habit. Every bad race or workout, try to learn from it and that makes it a success in the learning department. Every injury try to learn from it and be smarter going forward. To read how my awesome, pro runner friend, Allie Kieffer, plans to learn from her mistakes check out her amazing blog! Do it! PS- there is even a little Arty Runnerchick Art on this ‘gamer’ post…hehe.

1) Do you have an Instead off../DO THIS: tip you’d like to share?

2) Have you made one of the mistakes above (we all probably have!), how did that go, and how have you tried to act smarter going forward?

3) Did you not know that you were making one of the above mistakes?

4) How do you have fun with your running?
I try to remember that I’m lucky to be running at all…if I start to lose sight of that something usually gives me a little reminder. (ie: injury, I realize I’m taking it for granted and tell myself to give my attitude a check…hehe)

# The Rainbow of Running: Sweating out each mile by the color

A rainbow is built color by color, not unlike your training. Here’s the running rainbow breakdown:

Red is Consistency. There is no super secret to getting better, it’s just hard work done day in and day out over months, years…you get the picture. Dedication and self-motivation are two the biggest things that will determine the amount you success you achieve, that really goes with anything. You can’t fake it, do what you love; if that’s running then set your goals and run for them. But be prepared for all of the curmudgeony, blah, tedious days too; they will be there and in those times you have to remember WHY you run and then get out there and do it.

Orange is Base. That great big old engine, your aerobic base; we’ve got your long runs served up piping hot with a side of hills and a great big pancake feast post-run refuel. Distance runners thrive on those endurance challenges…there are those runs where you step out and get lost between the miles, but the times where each mile seems to be excruciatingly endless too. There are the ones done with a great group and even in those shared moments of silence you’re getting to know each other in a unique kind of intimacy only training partners will understand.

Yellow is Tempo. The tempo runs and the long intervals, the main course workouts so to speak. These get you ready for those middle miles of a race, the majority of it; getting you used to race pace so that you can handle it come the big day. What’s your pick of poison, milers, 5 mile tempos, 1000′s, 10 mile tempos? Only this time the poison is lactic acid and it’s a matter of getting your muscles accustomed to handling as much as possible.

Green is Mentality. It’s often you against yourself when you come right down to it; sure there are your opponents, yes there is the clock, but before you can beat any of them you have to beat yourself. You have to face the doubts, that voice in your head telling you you can’t, screaming at you to stop, to give in, to relent. You have to look that bit of yourself dead in the eye when the moment comes, tell it to shut up, and keep on pushing.

Blue is Injury. It’s a necessary evil, they happen to every runner. We can do all we can to avoid them but they do come with the territory. When they hit it’s a matter of retaining sanity, dealing with them, and getting proactive. Cross-train, rehab, get better and get back. A large part of getting back is also mental, a string of injuries can ruin a runner if they get hung up in the depressive mindset. These injuries are tests, how much do you want to get back…the cheat sheet is to stay positive and take one day at a time.

Indigo is Speed. Yes, even the most fast-twitch muscle devoid distance runner needs speed, at least the ability to shift a few gears even if they don’t think it’s by an incredible amount. Have fun with these 200′s, the 400′s and 600′s…yes, fun. We may get blown away by real sprinters but it’s all relative. If you fear the track then forget the watch and just go; test yourself by running faster for the pleasure of the wind in your hair and slipping into a quicker gait. Take away the pressure and surprisingly you can fall in love with the sprinter-side of yourself. Then when you do see that clock again get cozy with a faster kick and enjoy the new PR.

Violet is High. The elusive runner’s high, the days when everything clicks. These are the crazy days that you can’t plan no matter how scientific you go about things. You’re just ON. They may fall on race day and bless you with a PR that feels ‘effortless’ but they could be random days too. Hold tight to the memories of these days because in the end these are what we are all chasing, they are what make all the crappy, leaden-leg filled days worth it. The ever quest for the days when you meet your best running self and for a brief moment in time you’re one and on the best run of your life.

Running and training, just like the rainbow, is built color by color.

1) Pick a color and parallel it to running or your own training.

2) Could you pick one of the colors and meaning I gave it and relate it to yourself? Which one is your favorite and why?

3) Consistency is the building block of training, how do you stay consistent?
I know I’m a happier, better person when I get my sweat in for the day.

As I write this I’m icing my right calf muscle; the little bugger has been a bit cranky as of late so I’m being proactive and giving it a little TLC. Let’s be honest, a runner’s reality (or regular worker-outer) comes with the creaks and squeaks, the moans and groans from the muscles and body, we’re like our own Tin Men and Tin Women. To keep those creaks from turning into the full on screams of injury we’ve got our oil cans in the way of icing, massage, stretching, and the like.

That's your calf muscles and achilles tendon thanking you for some TLC. ;)

Everyone is different and after awhile we get to know where our squeaks tend to lie; for some it’s the perpetually tight hamstring, the plantar fascia that rears its ugly head now and then, the achilles, the IT band and so forth. Knowing our weak points is important because we can focus on being extra diligent with these areas and do all we can to prevent a flare-up.

If the calf muscles are your weak point, listen up because doing some strength moves in addition to stretching and icing will do you good. In fact, if your achilles are your weak points, working on your calf strength will in fact help with that as well. Actually, even if these aren’t your known creaks and squeaks, strengthening them isn’t going to hurt you and still help you as a runner.

The 3 Way Calf Raise Trick and Achilles Care:

* Forward raise: Find a set of stairs and stand with the toes of both feet on the step; allow the arch and heel of your foot to hang off the back of the step and hold onto a rail for balance. Point both toes forward and lower your heels down until they are below your toes and as far down as you can reach without your toes leaving the step. Now raise up and onto your toes in a slow, controlled movement. Lower yourself back down and repeat for a set of 10-15 raises.

* Inward facing raise: With your toes on the same step, now point your toes inward so they are facing each other. Lower your heels down until they are below your toes on the step and raise up onto your toes just as you did the first time. Keep the motions slow and controlled to work the muscles; lower and repeat for a set of 10-15.

* Outward facing raise: This time point your toes away from each other, your heels will be nearly touching. Do the same lowering and then raising motion and repeat for a set of 10-15.

Start out with doing just one set of each raises and gradually work your way up until you are doing 2 to 3 sets. Be sure not to just whip through each raise and cheat a bit with momentum, it’s better to slow down so that the muscles have to really work.

By doing them in three different directions it works both of the calf muscles (the soleus and gastrocnemius) from three angles; because when you’re running you aren’t always on the same, even terrain, you take turns, you step on angles, rocks, etc. and so you aren’t always working those muscles from a single, laterally forward position. This way when you’re out running, if you step on a curb or rock funny your calf muscles won’t be so shocked and you’ll have less chances of running into an injury.

The same theory applies to your achilles tendon and by strengthening the muscles by which this tendon inserts at the top you can stave off achilles issues.

When I'm injured I'm more likely to punch a poor person in the face due to cross-training induced grouchiness. :P

Taking care of your little squeaks, creaks, and injury prone spots will not just save your sanity in being faced with an injury that makes you take time off but it will vastly improve your running. We all know that consistency, and being HEALTHY enough to run those workouts, are the key to being your best.

Take those oil cans, lube up, and run happy.

1) Do you have calf or achilles issues? What is your squeaky wheel?
Usually it’s the top of my hamstring right up by the glute.

2) Do you do calf strengthening moves at all?

3) What are some of your favorite strength moves, do they target some of the spots you tend to get injured?

4) If you were in Dorothy’s parade which character would you choose to be?
Hmmm…I guess the Scarecrow, he looks like he could move and run at a decent pace. Actually, scratch that, I think ToTo could beat him.

# I’m a Runner and I’m Not Complaining, But…

I’m a runner and I’m not complaining, but…

…if you’re going to build a community track but them install those guard rail arms that reach all the way out to lane four on each straight-away it sort of defeats the purpose. I mean doing 400 meter repeats where you have to swing wide on each stretch really is a hassle and adds extra meters when I’m already tired.

…repeat, I’m a RUNNER, don’t ever call me a jogger. I will get nasty.

…dear makers of ‘the boot’, nobody likes a stress fracture to begin with, can we at least start making headway in boot fashion? Can’t we at least get some color variety, I mean even casts come with color choices.

…if you’re out for a little power-walking, power to you, but when you hear me approaching and you’re walking 5 people wide, could you do a runnerchick (or runnerdude) a favor and go single file for a quick second to let me by?

…dogs are awesome, leash-less dogs that want to chase me and maul me are not so awesome.

…if you’re going to charge me an arm, two legs, and my first-born child in race entry fees then can you at least make sure that the race course is accurate and well marked? Who ever wants to pay to run the 4.674k race, don’t think that PR really counted.

…if there is ONE more treadmill manufactured that cuts me off at 60 minutes it should be destroyed. Haven’t these people ever heard of a thing called the long run?

…there really should be a ‘poor boy’ style race entry option. I’m talking, I don’t want a shirt, I don’t need a bag of gel or bar samples…bare bones, \$5 should cover the piece of paper for the bib, 4 safety pins, and the pleasure of lining up and then putting myself through torture in the quest for a PR.

…there are some awesome shoes coming out these days, but can I put in a request for the never-ending shoe? Think like a Wonka Gobstopper, you keep on running but the shoes never wear out.

See, I’m just a runner. I really don’t have many complaints.

1) Have any ‘non-complaints’ to add to this list?

2) Ever been chased by a mad dog while running? Isn’t it the kicker when the owner just acts like it’s no big thing?

3) What’s your favorite pair of running shoes at the moment?

# Plyometrics for Runners Part II – Jumps and Hops: I caught the Easter Bunny hopping away plyo style

Let’s talk some plyometrics.If you’re reading this and your face is already smeared with chocolate and Peeps sugar residue, you’ve done the Easter Bunny thing right. Just kidding…Happy Easter to those who celebrate and Happy Sunday to those who don’t.

Jelly beans also work their way into those eggs! ;)

But because we have bunnies on the brain today I thought it fitting we revisit the topic of plyometrics, this time covering hops and jumps. You can read the Part I on bounds and skips.

This time of year also falls into early track season; here is a prime time to build strength by incorporating plyometrics into your training. Plyo’s, because they are intense, fast-twitch muscle focused are taxing on the body and even if you don’t feel sore right away that will usually change come the next day. Because of this you have to be careful not to over-do them and typically you’ll want to ease back on these plyos, or cut them out entirely, come peak racing season.

During base building phases and early season is your opportune time to increase you strength and work on areas you need to improve on. If you’re not racing track, or not racing at all, plyo’s are still great because they:

1) Build strength and power; this translates into speed and the ability to end your races faster with a kick
2) Build more muscle; more muscle mass and less fatty tissue is always a good thing
3) Rev up metabolism;similar to interval sessions, intense bouts of plyo’s not only get your heart rate up there while you’re doing them but they create an after-burn effect where your metabolism is elevated for hours after you complete the workout

Channel your inner sprinter; plyo's will build your speed and give you that fast finishing kick! :)

Let’s get into the hops and jumping variety of plyo’s:

* Rocket jumps: Start standing with feet about shoulder width apart. Bend down into a squat and touch the ground with your hands and then blast up into the air, extending your arms up over your head. Reach for the sky and try to get as high off the ground as you can. Get back down into the squat and blast again. Start with one set of 10.

* Single leg butt-kicker leaps: Start balancing on your right foot and keep your left leg bent and off the ground for all of this jump. For this jump you want to achieve two things: clear as much distance as you can AND get your right leg up high into the air and kick your bum. You will look funny doing this, but that’s okay. Do 10 jumps on your right leg and switch to your left.

* Star jumps: Similar in look to jumping jacks, the star jump is different in that you will raise your arms and legs out at the same time. Start standing feet together and arms at your side; jump up into the air, kick your legs out to the sides and raise your arms up until they meet over your head. When you land you want you finish in the same position as you started. As you build power you’ll want to test yourself to see how high you can jump and how far apart you can get your legs during each jump. Do a set of 10 to start.

* Quick feet bench taps: Use a bench the same height as you did the step-up blasts; start facing the bench with both feet on the ground. Here you will alternate quickly tapping the bench with your right foot and then your left. You do this in a continued hopping motion; right tap, left tap, right tap, etc. The aim is to keep moving and to get those feet to fire off the ground, to the bench, and back down again as quickly as possible without losing balance. Your arms will follow the opposite arm/opposite leg motions you do as running. Start with a set of 20 toe-taps; that would be 10 taps for each foot.

These are 5 great jumping plyometrics to get you started in building a routine. If you’re new to plyo’s, remember it is QUALITY over QUANTITYand if you need to slow down or take longer breaks to complete them right that is better than doing more sloppily. Doing them with poor form will only re-instill bad habits and set you up for an injury. Secondly, for your first few times only do a set of 10, you may feel like it was ‘easy’ but typically you want to walk away from a session tired but not demolished; with plyo’s the fatigue sets in later and even if you don’t feel like it, the muscle tissues were broken down.

Do a plyometric routine after your hard workout day; finish your cool-down them move into those plyo's.

For runners, here are points to remember:
* Do plyo’s on days you already did a hard workout. It sounds off, but you don’t want to add plyo’s to your easy days because that will defeat the purpose, you’ll never recover and then come your hard workout days you’ll be spent and tired.

* Start with doing plyo’s only 2, up to 3, times a week with at least one day between them. Start with only 1 set of 10 for the first week, if not the first few, and work your way up to 3 sets of 10.

* Allow full recovery between each set. You want to be fully recovered between each set so you can give each jump the most power; you’re working on your explosiveness not your endurance here…channel your inner sprinter.

* Mix and Match: If you’re doing more than one plyo session a week, do jumps and hops one day and switch to the leaps and bounds routine the next time you do them. Get a good variety of what you’re doing, as with any other training philosophy.

Once you’re done with your plyo’s be sure to refuel like a champ within 30 minutes to get the recovery window!

1) What’s your favorite Easter type candy…are you all about the chocolate eggs, the Peeps, or were you one of those kids who actually looked for the real hard-boiled ones and ate those?

2) Do you do plyo’s and if so, which are your top picks? If you don’t, would you be willing to try them?

3) If you don’t do plyo’s, what do you do to work on your power and speed?

4) Anyone race this weekend?