Reach For Those Times – Setting Goals and Benchmarks Along the Way

There’s been a lot of talk about goals as of late. As you remember I’m the anti-New Year’s Resolutionist (I’ll make that a term) here but I’m all for goals. If you want to get faster and set a new PR then you have to first VIE for that time, right?
runner breaking tape
True you could just ambiguously go out there and hope you wind up faster, but it’s a proven fact that setting a black and white, specific target to shoot for will work best. When your motivation may be lagging you have that goal kicking you in the tush. When the middle of the race is hurting so bad you’re contemplating just running straight in front of the shot-put, you think about the time you want and you keep on taking those left turns.

Going a step further, putting it out there, telling people your goal is another way to up the ante. But if you’re not confident enough to do that, or shy, at least say it to yourself, maybe write it down somewhere where YOU can see it.

The other thing is that the time may sound crazy, insane even to you. That’s okay, shoot high (within reason of course, if you’re a girl and say you want to break 4 minutes in the mile, be aware you’d be the first actual female to do that…) and you’d be surprised. Often it is our own mind that puts the glass ceiling on us and gets in our own way. To a certain degree you have to adopt a pseudo-egomaniacal self (you can only bring that side out in your own mind, you don’t have to actually be a Kanye) and tell yourself, “I’m gonna bust X-time” or “I’m gonna freaking own that race, I’m going to win.”
punk kid
* Own it like a rapper. You don’t have to start pushing your own drink but build up the self confidence. You have to tell yourself you can do something; and the honest truth is at the beginning you may not even believe it. But you fake it ’til you make it. This is where a coach really comes in handy because they can usually predict your abilities really well, set the bar high enough for you to reach but not so high it’s unrealistic. I’ve been lucky to have a couple really great coaches and I had enough faith in them that if they said I could do such-and-such I just made myself believe that I could. I wouldn’t have had the guts to think I could run that myself, but knowing that THEY knew I could do it gave me the confidence to then accept I must be able to…then you just get out there and get the work done.

* Mini-goals. The end all goal, what you want to achieve by the end of the season probably (and at times it should) seem like it’s too high. That’s what makes you reach, but you also have to remember that you have TIME, the whole season to get there…you’re not doing it today. So set mini-goals, or benchmarks along the way. The mini-goals seem more attainable and they keep you going on the right path. By the time you get to the end of the season it doesn’t look like a quantum leap to your end goal. Also, having benchmarks allows you to adjust and see if things are on track, and if they aren’t you can take measures to get back on the path.

* Patience. This is a huge one, and it’s hard at times in our sport especially when you get excited. But there is such a thing as being too eager too soon, especially in the early season. Don’t do too much, don’t race your workouts, remember you still need easy days, and all the other intangibles. (sleep, nutrition, stretching, etc.) It takes more confidence to be patient actually…trust in your ability and your training program enough to stick to it and ultimately it will pay off in the big, end of season meets.

* Consistency. This one may sound like I’m going back on what I just said, but it’s not. Yes you need to be patient but at the same time it still takes a huge amount of dedication and personal accountability to put the work in. It’s a grind, but that’s our sport.

* Get your head on. Another thing about running and racing is that it is so mental, ask any racer and they’ll tell you that it aint pretty or a walk in the park…it hurts like a beast. Work on the different mental tricks; really becoming a tenacious racer is an ongoing process. Just when you think you’re ‘tough’ you have one of those races or workouts where you think, “Wow, okay, I just broke through to another level.” There will be times when you may admit you had a weak moment, that’s okay, learn from it and remember the feeling of disappointment so that the next time you’re tempted to give up or give in you don’t.

You might have just ended one season, be gearing towards the next and it’s a good time to set the goals you want to achieve. Even if you’re not racing for a team it’s good to have things you want to achieve, push yourself in one kind of way…whether it’s to run a faster 5k or 10k or push yourself to run your longest race yet. Think about it, write it, you can broadcast it, and you can even strut like Kanye about it so long as you remember to keep the ego in check. ;)

1) If you’ve got a season starting, race on the schedule, or a time you’d like to hit, would you like to share? C’mon, don’t be shy.

2) How do you set the bar for your running goals, do you have a coach, do you do it yourself, do you want to try to beat a friend’s time? If you have a coach how do you make yourself believe you are capable of it even if you think it may sound crazy fast?
I was pretty confident in anything my coach said. If they said it then I just told myself I’d get there…and honestly they were for the vast majority right in the end.

3) I want to remind you all this is still anti-New Year’s Resolutionist…mmmk!

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If You Had a Nickname What Would it Be and Those Tricky 4 Minute Mile Conversions

I’ve had a few nicknames throughout my life. I remember Pie and Spazz, but nothing that really stuck. I came across a guy who’s been dubbed the ‘Bullet with a Mullet‘. Now, I am hard-pressed to think that a mullet could be cool but I guess if you’ve got it rock it.

I’ve also kind of been of the school of thought that people who wear or do odd things fall into one of two categories. 1) The guy running around in Harry Potter gear as a cry for attention and is getting lapped by the field. 2) The dude donning a mullet but wins the race. If you’re case 1 you’re just trying too hard to be different just for the sake of being different and begging for attention. If you’re in case 2 and you’re winning and setting the track on fire then I guess you could do whatever you want. I once watched the winner of the Western States 100 Miler log-roll across the finish line. Though, maybe he just passed out at that point and happened to make it over the line. ;)

Back to nicknames, I’m not sure if the Irish born Ciarán O’Lionaird does indeed still let his mulleted locks fly back into the face of his competitors (maybe it’s a tactical thing, he’s trying to blind them as he makes a move) or if he’s cut it now, but I’m sure it gets him some cheers. He just recently broke 4 minutes for the mile and while he might have had a 1500 meter time that converted to that time, he makes a very good point: converted just doesn’t feel the same.

Ah, us Americans and being the only country to buck the metric system. We have our miles, our two miles, the rest of the world can deal with the 1500 meters and the kilometer business. ;) But then we complicate things further when we then throw in the 1600 and 3200 meter races…wait, those aren’t the same as a mile or two mile? Nope, there’s those pesky 9 and 18 meters respectively to account for between the two…wait or is it yards…or something like that. Can’t we all just agree on the same race distances?
own it
Converting from this to that sure makes keeping those lists tricky too, with an asterisk marking the times that were actually 3k’s on the 3200 list, or was that the two mile record sheet? The 1500′s from the miles and the 1600′s…can’t we all just get along and get on the same page…err, track?

My wild little tangent aside, I like the quote from our Mulleted Bullet, “When you have run 3:40, you are just waiting for the magical one to come along because that’s the only one people really care about; nobody really understands that conversion. When you know you are in that kind of shape you just want to go out and get under the 4 minutes.”

I think no matter where you’re from or your system of measurements, even the non-runners are generally able to appreciate that breaking 4 minutes for a mile is a big deal for the guys. Which then brings me to another big question (one to delve into further on another post), men chase breaking 4 minutes for the mile, cracking 13 minutes for a 5k (I’d rank this a level above the mile marker), or dipping under 27 minutes for the 10k…what are similar benchmarks for the women? Would one equivalent be breaking 4 minutes in the 1500 meters for a woman parallel the sub-4 men’s mile? Wait…should we double check that conversion??? ;)

1) What do you think about the converting of times? Do you think we should all conform to one agreed race distance across the board?

2) In talking about PR’s, do you accept converted times or do you think it only ‘counts’ if it’s the EXACT distance?
For me I’d probably just count the actual distance sans asterisk, but I’d say that if someone ran a 1600 and wanted to convert to a mile go for it. Same for the 3200 converted to a 2-mile I think…let’s just go crazy and assume they could keep the same pace for that extra 18 meters. Haha.

3) What are your own personal benchmarks…what are some specific times or barriers you’d like to bust in a race?

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New Years Resolution: I Plan on Staying Addicted to Running Like Always

If I see ONE more thing akin to, “X-Day Challenge: Lose Weight This New Year” I’m pretty sure that I will scream so loud the men in white suits will come haul me away. Honestly people, I don’t understand the obsession with January 1st and all of the out of shape, overweight people promising that THIS is going to be the year.

fat runner

Hey, at least he's out there busting it out!

Okay, you may say I’m being a little bit anti-fatite or cruel here but it’s really not rocket science, input versus output. If a workout for you is digging into the bag of Cheetos, lift to mouth, and repeat than obviously you’re probably headed down a road of a little excess baggage…some wiggle to that jiggle.

If you just got back from a double digit run, you regularly do so, than by all means dive headfirst into that bag and come up an orange mouth if you so please!

New Year’s Resolutions aren’t all bad, I think having concrete goals to work towards is an awesome thing and is proven that if you put a goal out there you’ll be far more likely to continue to strive towards it. BUT the problem is when people are continually setting the SAME goal year after year and are chronic goal-abandoners.

Motivation, and especially motivation to workout, is something you can’t force. I will say that I’ve seen complete 180′s in people who used to be sofa surfers and now run marathons, but the difference is they had that ‘switch’ moment themselves. They pushed themselves to continually bust their bums in sweat sessions even when they didn’t feel like it, and they did that long enough to where they became addicted to those endorphins.


Apparently today's endorphins are pink.

I believe that it’s more a matter of ‘waiting it out’ in terms of running. I’d be hard pressed to find someone who fell in love with it the first time out…running does hurt, you get sore, you pant like a dog. There’s what you could call the hazing period that you have to wait out, force yourself to be consistent even when the LAST thing you want to do is run again. You have to callous the mind and body…BUT once you crest that ‘I hate this period’ somewhere along the way you fall in love with it. Then the really lucky ones become addicted for life. Hey, miles are my drug of choice.

Outside factors can help give you a booster shot of motivation in the inevitable times that it’s lagging, but in the end it comes down to you.

Running and fitness is a way of life, runners are weird. We don’t need January 1st to tell us to get out there and get ‘er done, we’re too busy counting up the number of miles we ran for the last year, out the door and getting a jump start on beating that total.

1) Do you make New Year’s Resolutions?

2) Where do you stand on the people who always say, “This year I’m going to get fit”?
The other thing is that is a very ambiguous goal, what is ‘get fit’ actually mean? If anything make it concrete: ‘I’m going to run 50 miles each week’, ‘I’m going to go to the gym 5 days a week’…something black and white that you can’t argue with, you either did it or you didn’t.

3) Are you a Cheetos person?
I’m more of a sweets kinda gal, I’ll pass the chips and dive headlong into the cookies.

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The Good, the Bad, the Ridiculous and the Awesome – The Running Round-up of 2011

The year’s almost over already?! January always seems to sneak up on me no matter what…I really hope I’m not the only one who looks back over the year, scratches her head and wonders, “Hmmm, okay, and what exactly did I accomplish this year?”

optical illusion

I did make an optical point for me

Regardless if I’m any more productive or not, a new year is a’coming, and I’ve been laughing at some of the ‘Top of 2011′ lists that are making the rounds. I have a new blog that I’m going to be stalking: EatRunSwag! Of particular hilarity are the ‘Top 5 WTF Moments of 2011′ and ‘The 5 Worst Pieces of Running Gear of 2011′.

I’m glad that someone called out the Vibrams as being ridiculous. I have never worn a pair and the day I do will also be the day that I start strutting around in those Shape-Ups shoes in lieu of my workout. There was one major oversights in my opinion so I feel obligated to add to the list:

easy tone clothing


1) Reebok EasyTone Clothing line. I think this one may in fact surpass even the shoes.

But 2011 has brought us plenty of good and fun new running related goods:

1) All about compression. We’ve got compression socks, sleeves, and I’ve even seen some for knees and other random spots. I know that the first few people to sport them got made fun of or people thought they were sporting soccer socks but I’m glad to see those naysayers are singing a different tune. Compression accessories have been shown to promote blood-flow which isn’t only going to help you WHILE you’re actually running but are perhaps even better to wear afterwards to promote recovery. Another time they can really come in handy is if you’re going to be sitting in a long car ride or plane ride because they can reduce your risk of blood-clots. Finally anyone who is traveling long distances to race, I’d suggest strapping them on to help spare the legs…we all know how crummy they tend to feel after being stuck sitting in one spot for hours and hours. As a side-note I’d like to give further props to Paula Radcliffe because she’s been wearing compression socks for YEARS…I’m going to credit her with discovering them first.

2) Cozy hand sleeves. These were around before 2011 but more and more long sleeved shirts and jackets are including holes for your thumbs and even an extra fold of fabric that you can stretch around your hands. I warm-up really fast when I’m out running and these are great because instead of having to wear gloves for about a mile then taking them off and having to keep track of them, you can just fold your sleeves down for the beginning and then fold them up when you’re warm enough.

3) Garmin fever. Yes, I will add this to the list because they are new to ME this year. There isn’t a need to get obsessive and wear them for each and every workout, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t love them. Finally a watch that is accurate, does anyone remember the days people wore a pedometer? Hehe. (No I wasn’t one of them though…just saying.)

4) Light shoes for everyone. One of the best things about slipping into your spikes or racing flats is that you feel like you’ve just lost about 10 lbs of shoe for the race. Well if you’ve been checking out the Nike training shoes’ evolution then you may even catch yourself wondering if the shoe is actually a trainer or a racing flat…the shoes are getting pretty dang light. What’s more is that this is the case for people who need stability shoes…these lighter materials are sweet if I do say so myself. Even crazier is that as the trainers are getting lighter so are the actual racing shoes too! I was talking to one of the shoe developers and he was doing the math; the difference in weight on one of the lightest spikes could shave off upwards of 30 seconds over the course of a 10k for an elite male. So for everyone running slower than an elite male (read as most everyone else) the amount of time you’d be able to run faster gets larger the slower the pace.
Just some fun finds and I’m sure that 2012 will bring even more awesome goods for runners. Just the same be ready to laugh as there are sure to be even more ridiculous products pushed our way, no doubt endorsed by such running saavy celebs like Kim Kardashian.

1) Any additions to the ridiculous accessories of 2011?

2) Any additions to the best running related goods of 2011?

3) Did you set yourself any goals for the year and if so how did you end up doing?

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Santa Done Me Good! The Ho Ho Holidays Recap

Well, I have to say the big fat man was good to me this year! Bear with me as I take a quick moment to get a wee bit sentimental as I am one lucky runnerchick to have such an amazing family and wonderful friends…it’s been a great past few days as we’ve made the holiday tour of duty!

Woke up today and decided that it’s never too late to try and give Rudolf a runfor his money. I lost, but I did get in a little tempo run on the treadmill…even had the distraction of the last dregs of Christmas movies playing. Then because of this little foot of mine I did my cool-down on the elliptical, all in all a great way to start the day, though I was especially tooty-fruity, I guess those last bits of sweets last night put me over the edge!

on wesley's lap

Little bro's pretty close to Santa...

Now on to the REAL news here, THANK YOU Santa for the Garmin!! How did you know? Actually I was fully surprised since it must have cost you an arm and a leg, but maybe you were able to outsource and substitute the appendages of some poor, unlucky elf…I only hope for fairness he was on the naughty list.
paul frank pants
You also know that it’s the stocking of a runner when there are sports bars and socks mixed in with the candy-canes. Though, the Paul Frank pants wouldn’t make for a right pick for getting my sweat on…

I also really loved the bracelets my sis got me: Trust Your Journey charms, one for each of us.

I hope the parentals enjoyed what I got for them…I promise I didn’t get it all sweaty. My mom is a bit of a sucker for the ‘personal touch’ type things so I did her a bit of art and got it screened onto a purse. A portrait of my two younger sibs…

shay and wes

Little bro, little sis, little Tito pup

For the siblings I got them a little something but really I know there is nothing like adding in the cash money.

The gifts though aren’t the holiday (wow, I think I may actually mean this, which means I am no longer my 8 year old self…I’m getting old) and the true joy was in fact just sitting around and chatting it up with the fam bam.

1) How as Santa to you this year? Were you a good runnerchick or runnerdude?

2) Did your own workout offer you up a not so tasteful reminder of the last few days of foodfest, I only hope the burps had the air of candy-canes or something sweet?

3) Name one of your highlights from the holidays.
Me: “Which one is from Santa, which one do you want me to open up first?”
Dad: “The present that says ‘From: Santa’ on it.”

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Here’s How the Reindeer Games Went Down…

rudolf running‘Twas the night before Christmas, and across the North Pole,
Santa called all his reindeer, he had one special goal.
Stopwatch in hand the beasts lined at the track,
Dasher and Dancer were talking lots of smack.

Blitzen was shivering forgotten to warm-up,
Vixen true to name wearing a risque get-up.
Prancer there smartly testing the legs with strides,
Comet there bouncing, nerves wracked his insides.

Cupid by name a lover but fiercely competitive,
Donder also doing strides, sorry if it’s repetitive.
Dasher confident, our returning champ,
Though Rudolf’s been at training camp.

The fat man calls to their marks,
Elves fill the grandstand, happy as larks.
Poised at the line our reindeer are set,
The bookies confirm their last bet.

Off goes the gun and Donder jumps right in front,
Out too fast, he’ll be dying soon if we’re blunt.
Our race here’s a 10k,
In case we forgot to say.

They pass through the mile,
Poor Donder struggling sans style.
Vixen takes the lead, check out those sparkly spikes,
Surely custom made, gotta be the latest Nike’s.

Rounding 8 laps now,
Blitzen dying like a fat cow,
Too bad for him the next four miles will be the worst,
He’s learning the hard way he shoulda warmed-up first.

Cupid’s ego now bolstered he takes the front,
A sharp elbow from Dasher exudes a grunt.
Half-way and Santa checks the split time,
A low whistle and chuckle they’re on world record time.

Prancer takes it at the far curve,
Cupid plays dirty, goes wide, makes him swerve.
Safely ahead Prancer ratchets down the pace,
Uh-oh down goes Vixen lost to an untied lace.

Eight still in the game,
Though Blitzen looks lame,
Rudolf sits at the back of the top pack,
He’s looking fresh, pop his legs don’t lack.

With a mile to go Dancer’s turn in the lead,
Santa’s ecstatic, the deer’s picking up speed.
The splits are lowering, elves on the edge of their seat,
Most have bets on Dasher pulling a repeat.

Two laps to go it’s a three deer race,
Lapping Blitzen there’s no extra space.
Running up tight near the rail,
A burst from Dasher, the elves exhale.

The bell starts a’clanging,
Everyone wonders if the lead will be changing.
A gap starts to widen on the far curve,
But look here comes Rudolf racing with nerve!

200 to go they look neck and neck,
The stands in an uproar, what do you expect?
Down the final straight our two deer,
Who’s ahead is still a big unclear.

Hooves pounding with fury,
So fast that they’re blurry,
Then Rudolf finds that last gear,
Nearing the tape our winner to appear!

First past the line,
Santa’s jaw drops at the time,
It looks like Bekele’s record is uphooved,
Though we’ll still have to wait for doping control to approve.

Rudolf raises his head, a smile on his face,
Dasher kneels to the ground lactic acid in place.
Elves cheering, well at least those with winning bets,
A few toy builders will soon have souped up erector sets.

Santa claps his hands looking proud,
Lest for Blitzen trudging home a sad cloud.
The reindeer’s race is complete,
Until next year when there’ll be a repeat.

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Is There a Grinch in Your Stocking?

While I tend to be a positive person, I know there are times when even the most Cindy-Loo-Who’s of us get a little cranky. Even if the big fat man in a red suit is watching, I also know that sometimes it is fully warranted to let our Grinch flag fly.


If only we lived in a gumdrop mountain meadow things would always be AWES-TATIC!! (Art: Cait Chock)

Now, before you start thinking I’m being a proponent for holiday un-cheer or being an unkind, thoughtless person (because I’m NOT…trust me sometimes things in this world stink but the best you can do is laugh about it and move on) my point is that there is also a line of what you should let roll of your back. Being that the holidays are super stressful for many people, let’s have a little mutual vent session and remind ourselves that we should pick our battles.

Pick your battles people, a wise little diddy because in life we always will come into contact with people that are difficult to get along with but we must. Whether they are a boss, a family member, or co-worker…you can’t go full Grinch status on them because there will no doubt be ramifications.

girl smiling

Am I smiling on the inside?

* The fake smile: akin to the ‘charity laugh’ this is a good weapon to whip out…you may be dying on the inside to claw their eyes out with a candy-cane but plaster this on your face, breathe, let them say whatever they are going to say and bite your tongue. Best uses are for when granny starts telling you that your choice of clothing isn’t right.

* Kill them with kindness: similar to the fake smile this one is different in that it takes a little more effort HOWEVER you can get a kind of twisted sense of relief in telling yourself that you are ‘outsmarting them’ because you KNOW they are being jerkies but you’re going to be the ‘bigger person.’ Best uses are with people that are your ‘superior’…think a boss or someone you have to stay on their good side. Or an unstable neighbor that if you got on their bad side you’re afraid you may not live to see another holiday.

strong girls

Workout those frustrations and get stronger...a double win. :)

* Run away: literally…I have to say one of the best ways to vent frustration is to take it out workout style. Have a nice interval session and the feel-good endorphins can be a lifesaver.

* Just walk away: Leave the room, get out of there…if you sense a volcano is about to erupt do you stay at the base of the mountain? Best uses: really anytime, it’s sometimes better to be ‘rude’ and leave mid-conversation than risk saying something you really wish you could take back later.

* Pick the battle: now, don’t be a doormat and sometimes you need to stick up for yourself. But proceed with caution and here are some things to keep in mind: speak in a calm, even tone and don’t raise your voice…start yelling and no one is going to listen. Use ‘I’ statements…”I feel that….” avoid using the term ‘you’ or ‘you did this’ because that automatically puts the other person on the defensive and they won’t listen to you. Finally, it may sound sappy but stick with the ‘this is what I’m feeling’ or ‘this is how it makes me feel’ and here is why, people can argue or who said or did what, but they can’t dispute how you are feeling. Kind of a tricky little loophole. :P

The holidays are AWESOME yes, we love each and every one of our family members and friends, right? Of course we do…but the holidays can be very stressful too. Have you watched the Griswald’s Christmas Vacation as of yet?

1) Is there anything making you feel a bit Grinchy as of late, EVEN during this awesome above awesome time?
To avoid a TMI moment I will just say I have a roommate that just can’t seem to get their aim right when using the bathroom…seriously?!

2) What are you most looking forward to this holiday season? What are you looking forward to the least?

3) How do you plan on handling any potential volcanos?

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Bookends – Great Reads for Runners

How often do I find myself saying, “I could talk about/read about running all day”? Probably too much…add to that now there are blogs and websites and maybe I should hang a sign on my door reading, ‘If I’m not seen for at least 48 hours, please come in and pry my glassy-eyed bum from the perma-seat’. Check that, I know I’d at least come out to workout…

guy behind computer

Art: Cait Chock

Regardless, physiology and sports science fascinates me. Running news and runner yammerings do too; I know I’ve read some awesome running related books but I also know there are ones I’ve missed. I came across a post from Jay Johnsons’s site and have some new ones to add to my to-read list.

Some of the books I have read:

* Once a Runner – Jay listed this one, but really, if you’re a runner you have to read it. I’m sorry, during that epic 400 workout, who didn’t stop and wish they had the kahonas Quenton did? This one is a fiction work but very well done and with enough runner ‘inside’ jokes to make for a shelf book. (one you keep around even after you’ve read it)

* Running With the Buffalos – Again on the other list, and Jay is actually in it. The author followed the 1998 University of Colorado team in their prep and racing of NCAA Cross Country Championships; it is another one I think nearly all runners should read and can relate to. It is a motivational read and will make you want to get out there and grind out some serious long runs or repeats. Among the team that year was Adam Goucher.

* Fast Track – Training and Nutrition Secrets from Suzy Favor Hamilton – This was a very informative but interesting read too; it’s not just a dull ‘do this or that’ sort of book. Being a female runner and of course a Suzy fan it was especially fun to read her insights and as always what goes through a top competitor’s mind.

* Duel in the Sun – I was on the fence for how much I liked those this one, but here is why: I know Alberto Salazar and adore him and I thought that the book played him out to be the obvious bad guy in the duel. For commercial reasons I understand it’s best to have a hero and villain; now I also think the world of Dick Beardsely and know he makes for an excellent guy to root for, so I see we can’t have two heros I suppose. Still, the obvious slights on Salazar got to me; that aside the race itself is epic and crazy to read about.

* Staying the Course – A Runner’s Toughest Race – This one is an autobiography by Dick Beardsely and I encourage everyone to read it, even if you’re not a runner actually. Dick overcame so many obstacles in his life (freak accidents, drug addiction) and today is a motivational speaker…and one of the most postive people I know.

* Alberto Salazar’s Guide to Road Racing – As the title implies this one is another training book and good read. Lots of information not only about racing but core and strength work, and then of course the running tips and workouts not just from an athlete’s perspective but coach as well.
kara goucher
* Kara Goucher’s Running for Women – Awesome book and resource for women athletes; true you may think I’m biased because I’m friends with her but even with that aside I promise the book is worth it. Like Suzy’s book it is engaging in that it includes personal anecdotes and insights with the information.

* Running the Edge - This is a newer one from Adam Goucher and Tim Cantalano. I have yet to read it but plan to, it is not only about running but how running has impacted other areas of their lives and made them stronger, better people for it.

Good heavens, I planned on making this a short post because I’m pinched on time, but obviously that plan derailed. I’ve got others, but I think these are the top reads and they stick out in my mind the most. I hope you are all surviving the whirlwind of the holiday season! :)

1) Best running related book you’ve read or want to read?

2) Best book period you have read or the one you are currently reading?

3) Which of Santa’s reindeer are the fastest? Which one is the slowest, slacking off, and obviously making the rest of them pull extra dead weight??
I know the answers and they will be forthcoming…

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A Self-Massage Survival Guide and Running Through the Holidays

You know how I was saying not too long ago about runners being in a sort of constant pain from one thing or the other? If you want a real laugh take a gander at this chick the first few steps of any run…*snap crackle pop*…it isn’t coming from the Rice Krispies.
old person
I know I’m not the only one, it’s hilarious (in that kind of way) because regular runners and even record holders/world-class athletes alike have a tendency to look a bit like Frankenstein before they are ‘warmed’ into that run.

On-going ‘this’ or ‘that’ is part of the game but we’re riding a thin line between a flare-up or actual injury that can keep us out. Staving them off is a bit of a battle, if you will, and the best way to win is to stay ahead of the enemies…err, game…err, injuries…hehe.

In case you missed it in the January issue of Running Times I did a piece on one of the ways to stay ahead of the game and be proactive in staying healthy: self-massage. The article is now available online if you want to read it HERE: Self-Massage the Runner’s Way. We all can’t afford regular massage therapy sessions, although I think we’d all LOVE it, but we have two hands and can put them to our own use. :)

Moving on because there has been to much bummer injury talk as of late and there are much more happy and exciting things to talk about! Namely the holidays…no matter what you celebrate I believe there is at least one thing or the next that warrants holiday status.
dogs at christmas
I’m really lucky that this year I don’t have to do any of the big travel…I’m not a fan of being stuck waiting in lines for eternity at the airports or having a security check that’s just short of a body cavity search. I jest, never had that pleasure, but for whatever reason I’m ALWAYS that unlucky ‘random’ person who has to go to that separate line and have the personnel unstuff and sift through my bags. I’m beginning to think I must look like some kind of creeper??

Though when it comes to the holiday season and traveling, people admit to sometimes finding it hard to squeeze in their workouts. Personally it would take something short of the apocalypse for me to not do something, but then again I’m also rather lucky to have a family who are pretty understanding as they too are fitness enthusiasts.

But if you’re NOT from a family of runners or have some extended travel plans, here are a few tips and tidbits:

* Get up early. Or that can be even earlIER if you’ve got a morning flight. I’ve gotten in runs outside of 4am to hop a flight…it’s not easy prying yourself out of bed but at least you don’t have to stop for any street traffic. The getting up an hour earlier also comes in handy if you’re staying with people who don’t ‘get’ the whole running thing; if you’re up and done before it ever effects them or impede plans that can win you some brownie points or at least help you avoid getting any flack.

* Adjust. If you’ve only got a short window of time and you want a quickie interval workout, then opt for faster farleks. You can bust out a good speedy 8-10×200 meters (200 recovery jog), with a short warm-up and cool-down in that time and it’s a quality workout that you could use anyways.

* Rope in others. A big thing with the holidays is of course family and friends, do the whole ‘kill two birds’ thing and go out for a run…everyone likes some company, right?

In the end though, if you end up needing to scale back your workouts or *gasp* miss a few days it’s not the end of the world. Consistency over the long haul is the most important thing, and there ARE bigger things in life than running in the end…hmmm, even if that was a bit painful to admit. ;) jk.

1) Do you do much self-massage? Are you lucky enough to go in and get actual massages from others?

2) Best thing you do to be proactive on the running injuries front?

3) Are you traveling for the holidays? How do you get in your runs or do you take planned time off?

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“The First Run is the Sweetest”…or Something Like That, Cat

Six weeks and the legs went to the dogs! :) I know I haven’t talked about it too much on here (I’ve been playing by the ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’ rules a bit.) but I injured my foot awhile back and was thus held captive to the cross-training.
chained animals
Still working to find out exactly what was/is wrong with my foot but it stems from head-diving into all outdoor running when I’d been doing solely treadmill running for over a year. My case is a little odd, the reason I was a gerbil on the ‘mill for so long was because I was a little iffy running on the roads after getting hit by the car.

I pretty much chop-shopped my own little rehab program to even get back to being able to walk and then run (the doctors hadn’t seen/worked on a case like mine before) but I knew where I was and I knew where I wanted to end up…so just head in that direction! Anyways, I went to the treadmill on my road back to running but after so long a runnerchick needs to get some fresh air!

girl hit by car

Opps a-daisies! (Art: Cait Chock)

I got a little overzealous, I admit, pressed my luck a bit and my foot had something to say about it. Lesson learned, and learn from my mistakes…do as I say, not as I do, right? Running on the treadmill is a lot more ‘forgiving’ than running on pavement so if you’re making a transition you need to do it gradually.

Anyways, six weeks of burning a hole in the elliptical and let me tell you: BAM that first run back (on the treadmill) was a bit of a sucker-punch to the face. That old saying of ‘use it or lose it’ applies to running, my friends. It’s just funny because it takes awhile for the mind to catch up; mentally you’re used to a certain pace feeling ‘easy’ or at one level of effort but then you need to check yourself when you’re coming back from a running break…even if you’ve been diligent with the cross-training, there is still going to be some work getting back into the swing of things with running.

But don’t get depressed, because the GOOD news is: muscle memory. While your legs will feel like foreign objects at first and be sore, they snap back relatively quickly and you’ll be surprised with the progress. (I am reminding myself of this very thing, we’ve all been through it before) It’s just a matter of mustering up, getting through the transition, and remaining positive…your legs will eventually be returned to you.

happy girl

Yes it sucks, you don't have to do a dance, BUT slap a smile on a fake it 'til you make! (you don't even have to smile but remind yourself you'll get through it...mmk!) Art: Cait Chock

Even in the short time I’ve been getting some easy runs under my belt I’ve seen improvement…this morning I did a short/easy fartlek on the treadmill (I’m going to heed my own advice and start back on the treadmill for now) and while I was hardly on world record pace I was able to get the old legs moving and the endorphins rolling…and even better news I didn’t fly off the back end of the treadmill. :)

In closing, I’m hardly out of the woods yet, I’m still supplementing with cross-training but my message is simple: injuries bite the big one, but they are a necessary evil as I’ve said a million times. My biggest advice though is to allow some venting (keep it minimal and give yourself a time limit of wallowing), but stay positive and keep plugging away…and then do your cross-training. I tell you, if I had done nothing for six weeks the legs would have been ravaged by the dogs and not just bitten. ;)

1) Why is it that the first few miles back running after an injury are both euphoric but excruciating?
Happiness is from the mental relief, the pain are your legs revolting…that’s why I was grimacing like that, it was a smile on the inside. :)

2) Your go-to cross-training and how do you keep it interesting/effective?
Elliptical and intervals.

3) When on the final few intervals of a workout, what is your mental trick to keep on plowing through to the end?
Tell myself I’ve only got one more, break down the interval in my mind and think ‘only 30 seconds more’, and pick a point ahead of me and zone in on nothing else.

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