Would You Like Liver With That?

I was watching something last night that brought to mind a story. It was one of those times where you remember something that you had thought you had ‘forgotten’ about until some weird brain-spark dug up this nugget; I then spontaneously busted out in laughter looking like the dorkette I am.

Let me paint you a picture: a collective group of runners have been away on a altitude training camp. Needless to say some particularly high up places are not exactly natural tourist attractions (no offense to high altitude places, I said some of them of course not all!!) and so places to go, run, or even eat are skim.
girl on track
Our harriers had just come off of a tough track session…add in attitude and you can bet we were beat…time to get our grub on. Trolling around we wind up at a local, chain-wannabe-esque type diner and I’m blanking at the name. Think of like a Denny’s but they are doing their best efforts to ‘class it up’ just a wee bit. Gotta give them props for trying.

Counting coaches we were a big group, probably about twelve, and we made up about half the populous of that diner. Out come the menus and they had a rather wide selection if I do say so, and in the end the food was pretty good if I remember correctly.

focaica bread

They even brought us a bread basket...I don't think Denny's does that.

Amongst our training group were two Africans, one native of Uganda, and the other visiting in from Kenya. Now, comes the fun part. We get to Alex, from Kenya, and he is making a sort of stink face…nothing really seems all too appealing to him. He turns to Julius, from Uganda, and they exchange a word. (They are actually two of the funniest people ever and speak their own completely unique language, not even a dialect, it’s English but they have these saying, mashing of words in a sentence that only they makes sense of.)

Julius turns to the waitress and says deadpan, “Do you have liver an onions?”

Waitress, “Ummmm,” she’s trying to gauge if he’s being serious or just putting her on the spot, “yea, I think we might have some.”

Alex, “YES!!!!” he literally couldn’t contain his excitement, “I want liver and onions!!!”

Julius equally enthused, “Me too!!!”

They were like kids in the candy-store.

Different strokes for different folks, but if you had watched the fire on the track that had been Alex earlier you probably might have paused for just a moment and wondered if you, in fact, should try a helping of liver an onions.

But then you’d see the plates come out, and realize that those servings of liver HAD to be circa the 1920′s and thought better of it.

1) What are some of your favorite foods that others may find as odd or gross?
When I was little I LOVED to just suck on lemons. Ummm, don’t tell my dentist.

2) Do you live at sea-level or altitude?
Sea-level all my life, and I’m sucking wind any time I go up!

3) How was your weekend and what were some highlights?

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A Runner’s Reality — The Ever-Constant Annoying Aches and Pains

Fun fact: virtually anyone who’s been running for at least a few years is always in some kind of pain. Not the everyday grinding it out, ‘that was a tough run’ type of pain, I mean in the sense of they are dealing with something.

For some it’s their achilles, tendonitis here, tight hamstring there, annoying adductor you are forever the pain in my @$$. You see, once you accumulate a certain number of miles your body starts to send you its own little ‘thank you notes’ in the form of niggling annoyances. Thank you, I love you too body. If you’re getting these thank you’s…hello, and welcome to the club.
yodeler thank you note
I thought of posting this because of a conversation I was having yesterday with some of my best friends; one was asking about the ‘seriousness’ of feeling one such ‘thank you note’ and the conversation ended with, “The truth is, everyone has those things, I don’t get nervous until they start rating at least a 5 or 6 on the pain scale.” To sum it up: if you took time off for EVERY single nuisance for fear of it turning into something serious, you’d never get a run in.

Of course, this is a little ‘tough love’ saying, so let me put the obligatory disclaimer here: of COURSE you have to be smart enough to recognize the difference between the real pain of an injury (or onset of an actual injury) and just the dull sort of pain/ache that consistent training will cause. Back to our little pain scale, if you’re hovering below a 5 (say a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being excruciating you’re about to cry every footfall) I don’t get too worried. Do a little self-treatment and go on your way.

Yes, this is coming from the person that probably errs too far on the, ‘I will get my workout in come h-e-double hockey-stick or high water,’ heck I was temped to pop back up and keep on trucking after being hit by a car until I looked down…oops, blast those bones sticking out I guess that may put a hamper on my stride! BUT, there is a common ground here.
runner finishing first
A few weeks back another friend said, “The weirdest thing happened to me on my run today, I felt really junky that first mile but then after that had a really great run.”

I replied, “What?! Is that the first time that’s happened to you?! Every first mile feels like a slap to the face…it takes a bit to warm into it, I look like a geriatric that first mile!”

You see, I love running. But she is a fickle little lover. She gets really testy and makes me work for that first mile, prove that I am in fact committed. She likes to send me these ‘thank you notes’ that I’m really not all that thankful for, but like I good partner I just roll my eyes and put up with her because I know in the end she makes me a better, happier, saner person.

1) What is your little ‘thank you note’?
The aforementioned adductor circa 2002.

2) When do you start actually worrying that it might be something serious?
In truth there is always a part of my brain that shouts, “What the heck, THAT is new, is it something?!” But I talk myself into rational mode and assess the situation. Usually it just goes away, and I don’t really get worry-worried unless it’s at least a 7-ish.

3) What are you looking forward to this weekend?

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Baby, It’s Gettin Cold Out…Runners Beware

Is winter here yet?! Well, at least for me I’m saying it’s cold out! (I know, I know, I’m a big weather weenie and acknowledge that I don’t even have a ‘real winter’ compared to most states!)

santa dogs

Art: Cait Chock Designs

As with our summer season there are things you need to remember come winter…so let’s have a little refresher course to all us runners out there. And if you see a big, fat man in a red suit chasing you…I hate to break it to you but he’s not really Santa and I’d suggest you make like a record-holder and RUN!

* Think layers!! I know, this sounds like an obvious, but I’ve been guilty of this in the past; I tend to heat up rather quickly and I don’t want a bunch of extra clothes bogging me down. But, it’s far better to go in overdressed than underdressed…your muscles do NOT like the shock of cold weather and you put yourself at risk of an injury.

* Keep drinking. Even though you might not feel like it, you’re losing a lot of sweat and moisture; you won’t see the big pit stains because the cold weather causes it to evaporate, but trust me it’s there. You also lose water through respiration…do don’t let the hydration slack during this time.

* Don’t stretch. Wow, that sounds wrong, doesn’t it?! What I mean is DO NOT stretch cold muscles; you’ll rip, tear, pull something. You should only be stretching after you’ve warmed up (run for at least 10 minutes) or AFTER your run…not before. Finally, if it’s really cold out stretch real fast because your temperature will drop fast and your muscles will then, in effect, be cold again. :)

* Get back in. If you do have a real winter, there are times when running on the treadmill is the SMART thing to do. You’re not a ‘weenie’…you won’t be too happy if you go out and slip on some black ice or other winter hazard and wind up injured. Plus, indoors you can sometimes get in a better quality workout. (ie: if you’re planning on a tempo run but the roads are slicked over with ice or snow and there are gale force winds, I’ll bet you’ll be able to run faster/safer indoors.)

So, winter is blowing in and let’s not let it pelt us with any injuries or other sorts. Sorry, I was reaching for a bad pun or something to close with and am seriously lacking.

1) Words of advice for winter running/working out?

2) Do you have a ‘real winter’? Also, any crazy winter running stories?

3) What are you most looking forward to this winter?

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Easy days mean EASY

Yesterday was all about pushing yourself through intervals and today is all about the RECOVERY day…read as: easy day.

friends running

Keep your easy days at a conversational pace.

Here is where people can make one of the TOP mistakes in training: going too hard on their easy days. This might work for a period of time, and they might actually get a little ‘boost’ in the short term, but what will soon happen is all of that will catch up to them and then strap in for a nosedive.

The days that you will then want to actually go hard on, your intervals or workout days, will start to suffer. You’ll feel tired, the paces will feel insurmountably more difficult than they should be, and you won’t have that ‘pop.’ You’ll be feeling flat because what happened is you blurred all the days of your week.

There won’t be the difference between hard and easy days, they’ll all just turn into a blurry shade of grey. Not good, and trust me not fun. I step forward as being guilty of this in the past…whether it is because you are just feeling excited and good and want to go faster, you are new to a team and trying too hard to keep up, are competitive on a team and trying to play that ‘top dog’ game, or just feel ‘guilty’ about going too easy (ahem, this girl) it’s not smart. Easy days need to be easy.

So, relish those recovery days and know this is the times that your body needs to just regroup and…well, recover. It’s really just about putting in the cardio and miles, so keep it conversational. That way, you’ll be able to actually hit it come the next hard workout day or even more important, race!

1) Easy days, how do you keep yourself in check?

2) Have you learned this lesson the hard way?

3) Best thing about easy days?
Just enjoying being out there and not getting stressed about any kind of pace!

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Intervals and Hard Workouts…Don’t Avoid Them, Lie to Yourself and You’ll Love Them

Interval workouts. Speedwork. Running hard. Pushing until your legs are on fire and your lungs burn. Sounds like so much fun, right?!

I’ve said before that there is a difference between running and training. Hard workouts are the difference. They will make you faster, get you on the road to PR’s and the separate the runnerchicks and runnerdudes from the runnerbeasts…beasts being a good thing. You see, in a sick sort of way we crave that burn of lactic acid and pushing ourselves. I think it’s mainly because of the feeling you get afterwards…the feeling of accomplishment. And ya, the better times or PR’s are certainly perks. :)
strong girl
Intervals are just as much a test of the mind as the body. Sometimes even MORE a test of the mind, a battle of the wills, a battle within yourself. Personally, sometimes the HARDEST part of hard workouts are just getting starting, putting the first one down.

Yesterday I was on the precept of doing some intervals, I was watching the minutes count down constituting the end of my warm-up and getting those little butterfly nerves of getting started, “Here we go…let the good times roll.”

I’ve found there are a few tricks on making bringing your best to a workout or at least gutting it out if it’s not your best day or you just are feeling ‘meh.’ One of the biggest: LYING TO YOURSELF.

You read that right. I was doing 10x 3 minutes hard/2 minutes recovery and I took each one as they came. I sort of broke them into sets of two (ten minutes total) and just thought, “What is ten minutes, nothing.” This worked and when I hit six I knew I was over halfway done.

girl runner

Now, the middle intervals are usually even tricker; you’re feeling tired, not so fresh like the first ones, but the end is not yet feeling in sight. The tendency to let those one lag a bit is tempting and you catch yourself wondering if you’re really going to be able to do ALL of them. But you can…keep lying to yourself. Also, ignore the part in your brain convincing you that those recovery minutes are WAY shorter than the hard ones, something must be off with the watch. ;)

So 7 and 8 I took them one at a time, and by the end promised that they were the last one. LIE.

9 you tell yourself it’s just about the homestretch…don’t let yourself mentally hold back or try to ‘save some for the last one’ because the last one usually takes care of itself.

And then the last one comes, you try to finish strong because the most successful workouts end working off of negative splits.

Now, this is another little LIE I love to torture myself with (I know, we runners are an off breed) I made myself do one more. Why?


When you think you can’t do anything else, you usually can. So number 11…let’s just think of it like our dessert. :)

1) What lies do you tell yourself during a hard workout?

2) Where do you stand on intervals, do you like the shorter/faster ones or the longer/endurance-based ones?
Need I even answer?

3) How is your week starting off, and what is on tap for you?
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On the Ever of the NYC Marathon, it’s Worth Remembering That…

I’ve gotten sucked into NYC Marathon hype…not unduly of course because I think there are plenty of things to be excited about. Is it strange that I’ll post all of this and I’m not even running the race? Oh well if it is, I’m a runner geekette so I can be a fan and post if I want to. I do think it would be really awesome to run it one day.

I thought it worth doing a couple previous NYC highlights over the years, and a part of the idea came to me cause Cecily over at ReRun Running did something similar for another race she IS running in. :)
nina kuscsik
The first woman to run in the NYC Marathon was Nina Kuscsik in 1972; she actually took part in a sit-in with all the other female entrants on behalf of gender equality. They waited ten minutes after the gun and then took off; Nina won NY two times, snuck herself into the 1969 Boston Marathon before being officially recognized as the Boston winner in 1972. Further, she was a propelling force in getting the Marathon instituted as an Olympic event for women.
grete waitz
What has made a lot of press recently is that one of the legends of the NYC Marathon, Grete Waitz, died earlier this year and thus the organizers have dedicated this 2011 running to her. Between 1978 and 1988 Grete won nine times, set the world record for the event a total of three times (even in her first attempt) and what I found astonishing was that she really entered the first time kind of on a whim. She had been a track star, setting twice the world record for the 3000 meters, and I read in one of her tributes something like, until the marathon her longest training run was about 10 miles! She is certainly one of the greatest female distance runners, but she also did a lot of wonderful charity work and co-founded a cancer federation. She is certainly missed.
alberto salazar and cait chock
Another one of my great running idols, Alberto Salazar, won three times from 1980-1982 set the world record for the event in 1981. He was the last American to win until Meb Keflezighi finally changed that in 2009.

Paula Radcliffe, the current women’s world record holder, has won three times. Kara Goucher made her debut at the distance in 2008, Shalane Flanagan also made her first attempt at the 26.2′er in 2010, coming in second and making her the top finishing American female for the span of 20 years.

This year it’s going to be Lauren Fleshman’s turn to tackle the marathon for the first time. On the men’s side there is plenty of talk of a new world record in the works…only time will tell.

So I don’t feel like I’m the only one who should be excited for this year’s event even though I’m not running. Like I’ve said many times before, running IS the best sport around…GOOD LUCK to those racing! :)

1) Are YOU excited for the marathon? Do you have any tidbits you’d like to add?

2) What else are you excited about this weekend?

3) Who are some of your running or athletic heros?

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Words of Advice to Some Gym-goers

At times, going to gyms makes me both laugh and sigh. Have you seen some of the crazy things people do or WEAR at the gym? I’m torn between wanting to laugh out loud, risk looking like a rude wack-o, and kindly off up some advice. Because I usually abstain from doing either, I do smirk sometimes, here are words of advice to some of my gym-buddies:

  • Don’t wear Converse shoes. Along the same lines, don’t try to run in jeans…I’ve seen this multiple times and I always wonder how that first shower feels, can anyone scream chaffage?!
  • Don’t put the incline of the treadmill so high that you aren’t able to barely walk faster than a crawl and have to hold on for dear life to the side-rails to keep from falling off. Yes, doing hill work and incline work is an excellent way to feel the burn, work those quads, and build strength BUT there is a way to do it. There needs to be a balance between the incline and the speed; you still want to be able to run/jog fast enough to get your heart rate up and thus constitute some cardio.
  • woman on treadmill

  • Put in the effort. If you’re pedaling at one RPM and texting, you aren’t doing yourself any favors and not getting in a workout. You should be getting your heart rate up, you should be breathing harder than normal, and you should be focused. Yes, distractions like music and TV are perfect distractions, BUT you still want to remember that your workout time should be that.
  • Have you heard of working in? If you’re sitting on a machine for your rest, the courteous thing to do would be to get up and allow another person to actually use said machine instead of making them wait for all of your reps/sets…just saying.
  • Don’t argue with your personal trainer. Ummm…to the lady complaining and trying to weasel her way out of a measly five minutes on the bike, can I just ask you, “Why are you paying this person?” If you want to reach certain goals you have to work for them. That will usually mean doing things that make you uncomfortable.
So, just a little unsolicited advice from the random girl gawking around the gym. Don’t mind me if I have a smirk on my face. :)
1) What are some of the funny or ridiculous things you’ve seen people do at the gym?
2) What advice would you have liked to have when you were new to working out?
I feel bad because sometimes people are just not informed and I shouldn’t be snarky. When I was first starting running I wish someone would have told me much sooner that you shouldn’t be running with your shoulders up to your ears and your arms swinging like Ali doing punches.
3) What are you doing this weekend, anyone racing? I know that NYC Marathon is a biggie here and good luck to anyone racing there or anywhere else!

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When You’re in a Pinch You Have a Decision to Make

“But my biggest fears come from things like, what happens if I have to, like, go poop? I mean, what do you do? Really. Do you stop or do you just do it?” This comes from Lauren Fleshman as her biggest fear going into the NYC Marathon. I’d have to say that would rank up there in my list of fears should I be entered in a marathon. So today, it’s all about poop.
I have horrible GI issues, my mom too, I guess I inherited some poopy pants in the gene pool. Fair warning, this post may disgust some, but I’m going to put it out there because 1) it is what it is…c’mon, if you’ve been running long enough you’ve experienced this on some level 2) perhaps we can take some solace in the fact that we’ve all been there and 3) maybe we can swap tips and if nothing else stories…oh, let the good times roll.

I remember the first time I had to go on a run; I was with my mom and up until that point I thought the whole pooping behind the bush was just disgusting. But we all have that breaking point…you know, the butt clench waddle, then the feeling of, “I need a bush NOW!” It then becomes more a matter of, it’s either going in a bush or in your pants…what would you rather choose?

From that day on, I’ve cast aside any judgement on making your own personal port-a-loo…and can joke with other runners, “If you go out on a run and someone in the group comes back with one less sock, you just don’t ask questions.” I’ve compared poop stories with the best of them, and what really gets me…what REALLY bugs me is that the blasted ‘issues’ can be so unpredictable…it’s like a nasty game of Russian Roulette, you never know when it will hit.

Will it be in the middle of a hard workout, a long run, or horror of all horrors, a race?! It’s one thing to be nervous about time, place, feeling good, but how about soiling yourself? Not so settling on the nerves.

I know some of it just comes down to the person, I love how Shut Up and Run’s philosophy is just like mine, in that she isn’t afraid to speak the truth. We’re all friends here, we won’t judge, and if you do judge I’m sure your day is coming, just trust me.
road runner
In marathon prep, part of it comes down to finding what works for you fueling-wise, but even then, if you do all things ‘right’ there is the unknown of the GI Monster. Forget the Gila, this thing is far more terrible.

So Lauren poses the question right, “I mean, what do you do? Really. Do you stop or do you just do it?”

Paula Radcliffe had to choose during one of her marathons and she opted for the pop and squat. Over the years I’ve gotten my P&S to a very short interval, so you wouldn’t lose too much time…it’s just a matter of hoping there is the right bush in the right place.

Where do you stand on the issue?

1) Are you going to take part in the poopy debate?

2) Do you admit to the pop and squat, or the bush dive?

3) What would you do in Paula or Lauren’s situation, obviously on their level they wouldn’t be able to hide the fact of either choice?

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Are You Faster Than a Cow?

Okay, so did that get your attention? And so are you?
cow running

Nahh, I actually just wanted to post up a design a made for a local training group who took part in the Urban Cow road race.

But it got me thinking about runners coming in all shapes and sizes. At this point, can I make it VERY clear that in no way am I calling ANYONE a cow!! How about to even things out I’ll even go out on a limb and call myself a monkey because I have a huge mouth and when I smile, I generally look like this…

monkey smiling

Now that we’ve gotten that aside, back on topic. Yes it’s true, that if you were to look at the Kenyans, Ethiopians, and other top long distance athletes many of them are lean. I will also say that when you’re running that many miles, the calories tend to get torched and any fat is burned right off.

BUT, that is not to say that if you’re a runner you have to be skinny. The reverse it true, just because you’re slender that doesn’t mean you’ll be an awesome runner. And I’d like to get away from the term skinny, models are skinny…what I call skinny-fat. They are soft, they don’t have muscle tone and sometimes when they walk they got the jiggle going on.

skinny model

Models tend to be soft...courtesy of not eating or exercising...lol.

Runners can be lean; you’ll see the muscles flexing as they propel themselves forward, the tendons may show but you see them in action.

I’ve been wasted by runners who are still lean, yes, but they are larger than what one would typically coin ‘runner tiny.’ They may get power out of any extra junk in the trunk, their quads are not the same circumference as their calves and they are able to tear up mountains and blast a strong finishing kick.

I’ve seen runners who prefer to wear two sports bras because they are blessed with a chest and still able to throw down as many miles as the flatsy-patsie posse. Conversely, I’m not ashamed of my negative A status.

I know female runners who are able to bench-press more than the super lean runner guys…I also know runners who may have ‘chicken wings’ yelled at them but who are deceptively strong and could belt out push-ups like none other.

I have friends who have nicknames like ‘The Tendon’ or ‘Bone’ but I also have ones that love taking part in the Clydesdale Mile challenges.

We are the tiny masses, we are the larger clans, we are the lean, we are the muscular, we are the non-jiggly thighs, we are the ‘I can run more miles than you…na, na, na, na, na!’ armies, we are runners and we are proud.

We can all be faster than cows (of the bovine variety, remember I’m not calling anyone names here!)…because all we have to do is tip them over and sprint away. So remember, that no matter in what way, shape or form your awesome legs come in, just keep them moving and you are a runner…be proud of that status. :)

1) If you were an animal, what would you be?

2) What is one running related feat you are proud of?

3) What is one non-running accomplishment are you proud of?

4) How would you outrace a cow?

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Switching Gears — Turn a Stale Run into a Better Run

My last few runs I was feeling flat. Just sluggish; you know the feeling, like you can’t exactly pinpoint why you’re running a particular pace and it’s feeling a lot harder than it should.

I was bemoaning this (what, me complain?!?! I try to not make it a habit but after a few junky runs my mood starts to swing harder than a menopausal woman going through hot flashes) to one of my best friends. Thankfully said friend is also a genius, and is savvy on all things bodily related, “You’re just stuck in one gear and have to jolt yourself out of it.”

mad dog

That was how I was feeling on some of those runs...

What did Doctor Al prescribe? Adding in some pick-ups through the course of my regular run. I know what you’re thinking, “Wait, but I’m already feeling tired and in a funk just going steady on my run, so now I’m supposed to try and go faster, and that somehow is going to make me feel better? Umm…thanks but no thanks.”

But before you discount this, let me break it down for you. Running is a very repetitive action, I mean unless you’re dodging a bullet or stray dog, you’re pretty much just moving forward and doing the same thing mile after mile. Your body, after years of this, will basically build up a muscle memory and you could pretty much run on autopilot.

The thing is, is that sometimes, neurologically, you can get stuck in an autopilot rut. If you’re not changing up paces or speeds, such as the case with just a regular, steady run, you can get stuck in one gear.

That gear can leave you feeling stale. To break out of that you have to shock the muscles with a different gait, pace, a shock to the system that wakes them up. Even just a short burst at a different speed can do it; try doing a stride of about 100 meters or 30 seconds and then settle back. I’ll bet that when you do return to the first pace it will feel a little better, your legs a bit fresher.

I’ve been testing it out, I did it today and on Sunday for my long run; in the middle of my run I did 12 x 30 second pick-ups with a little over a minute between them. Here’s how I felt: first four miles felt wonky and just flat, the first few pick-ups I felt like I was hardly moving very fast, but by the last ones I was having fun and, what, was that a turnover I felt?! The last miles of my run after the strides I was able to go faster than the first ones and I felt better doing them.

sugar cookie running

Think of chasing a giant cookie, that'll make you want to dash for a bit! :)

It sometimes just takes a shock to the system to switch you out of one gear and into the next. If you’re in a building or base phase, or have a couple days between hard workouts, try interjecting some pick-ups on your steady runs. You don’t have to do any certain number, just a few can do the trick. The fun thing is that they are totally unstructured and you can play around with it, just go harder for the sake of it, pick an ambiguous distance, and then just enjoy the run.

1) Have you tried switching gears to liven up dead legs?

2) What other suggestions do you have for runs where you’re just feeling flat?

3) Winter is here, I almost got blown away out there today, how do you handle winter weather?
Thankfully I’m in CA and even our winter weather is weenie weather to most of the US!

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