Gawking at Fast Runners: We all have doubts, but you can choose whether to let them stand in your way or not

“Those who can’t do, teach,” they say and I’ll add, “Those who can’t run can obsess.”I jest, but if I’m not going to be able to get my fix of miles for now (thank you, right foot, if I could I’d just lop you off, steal someone else’s foot and reattach!) I’ll have to vicariously get them from others. I’ll start a donation pile, feel free to leave a few of your’s in the can as you leave. ;)

sunset runner

Ahh, I can dream of some sunset runs. ;)

Back on track, if you’re a running geek fan we’ve got some pretty fun weeks coming up. This Sunday will is the Carlsbad 5000 in California, April then ushers in both the Boston Marathon and the London Marathon.
serious runner
The Carlsbad 5000 has quite the history as time and time again its fast coarse has berthed many 5k road World Records, they don’t call it ‘The World’s Fastest 5k’ for nothing. The current Women’s 5k record is from Carlsbad in 2006, 14:46 by Meseret Defar. This year Tirunesh Dibaba who, with a 14:51 at the 2005 Carlsbad once held the joint 5k World Record with Paula Radcliffe, will be going back for a visit and a race. You can read some more about her HERE from Competitor and HERE from Running Times, but for those who don’t know Dibaba launched herself into the distance running spotlight while still in her teens…girl is crazy fast, in her first Carlsbad appearance in 2002 she was 16 and ran a 15:19. Not too shabby, just a 4:55 mile average. ;) She’s been laying a bit low these past years and dealing with ongoing injuries, I think we can all relate to that.

shalane flanagan

Photo Credit: Thomas Boyd/The Oregonian


Speaking of some more crazy fast women here is an article on Shalane Flanagan about her recent win in the Lisban Half Marathon with a time of 1:08:52. I think the two best parts are 1) that she is wearing a Kara shirt and 2) this quote upon finding out that at the press conference she was placed head of the table and declared a clear favorite going in, “I thought they were on crack.” Flanagan goes on, “When I saw the start list, I was wondering if I should have entered the race. I was wondering what I’d gotten myself into. A lot of the women on the start list had PRs (personal records) that were a minute to a minute and a half faster than mine.”

I like this quote because it shows that we ALL have doubts no matter how fantastic we are, what are previous accomplishments may be, and despite the podiums others may place us on. Yes, the possibility still remains we may come up short of our goals, or be beat on a given day but that is a good thing as it motivates us to keep going, keep pushing ourselves, and never settle.

Obviously later going on to victory in Flanagan’s case proves that she doesn’t let the voices of doubts psyche her out. We ALL have race day nerves,but it’s a matter of channeling those jitters into a positive direction and using them to our own advance. Use the excitement to give you the ability to raise the bar on race day, give you that extra kick, where you area able to really dig down deep and bring it. How bad do you want to achieve that goal?

track runners

You'll win some, you'll lose some...keep trying.

In running, racing, and in life, we all have the doubts…the moments where we may be thinking that whoever thinks we can do something must “be on crack” but that’s okay. Let them snort the white stuff, but perhaps take a shot yourself and go for it…at least try. Even if you fail you’ll have learned something and you could end up winning after all. **Disclaimer, I am obviously joking on the snorting crack here, folks…my drug of choice is exercise…mmk! ;)

Quick reminder that my Road ID giveaway ends tomorrow! Don’t forget to enter. :)

1) Are you racing this weekend? If so, let’s hear it! If you’re not, what do you have planned?

2) Is there a time you didn’t think you belonged somewhere or where you were in over your head? How did you deal with that?
I often say that the saying, “Fake it ’til you make it” applies in these cases…just roll with it and pretend like you belong even if you don’t think you do!

3) How do you handle pre-race nerves or anxiety? How do you handle the same kind of nerves or doubts in other areas of your life? (ie: interviews, meeting people, etc)

4) When you were 16 what were you doing, did you take part in sports? If you were a runner what do you think your 5k times were like?
I ran, but I had yet to even run ONE mile in 4:55…I don’t recall exactly my 5k PR at the time, probably around 17:30-ish??

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Approaching a Race: Depending on your goal going in how you run could be markedly different

Who are you up against on race day, the clock or the runner next to you? Everyone goes into a race with a different goal, be it just to finish, to be a scoring member of their team, set a PR, or go for the win. The funny thing with racing is that, contrary to what some may think, it’s NOT always a test of who is the fasted on the given day. There is a strategy behind all this running in circles. (okay, or running on the roads or cross country courses…hehe.)
girl on track
There’s a good read up on Running Times: “Chasing Vs. Racing” that highlights just this fact. Depending on what your GOAL is for the race the way you approach it is going to be very different.

* The clock. If you’re jut going out there and chasing a PR, you may not necessarily be concentrating on who else is in the field, you’re thinking more about yourself. Sure you can use the other harriers to your advantage and let them pull you along; there is no better way to zone out than to latch on and let others do the pacing work for you.

runner at beach

Zone out and daydream about the beach...don't think about the burning in your legs. :)

* The competition. Vying for the win could mean that time really doesn’t matter; prize money and titles on the line could mean you’re crawling at the beginning, each runner sizing the others up, playing a game of chicken, and waiting to see who makes a move. Here is the strategy we talked about. In the article Diego Estrada running for Northern Arizona said it nicely, “The stress and anxiety kick in during championship season, and you’re second-guessing yourself because you know it’s going to be tactical.”

What are those tactics? Sure there’s waiting until the last lap and finding out who has the best kick, but there are also surging techniques, and in a Prefontaine type style there are the lone soldiers who refuse to sit behind a dawdling pace and press it from the gun. The question is then if they will pay the price at the end and be out-kicked by a runner who was more conservative or sat behind them and let them do all the pacing work. There is something to be said for having patience and being confident enough to not go out guns blazing from the start…we do know negative splits work well for the body.

Sure, you may not be up front and in the position for a win but there could be plenty of other stakes on the line; you’re on a team and want to be a scoring member this time, it’s your first attempt at a new distance and you’re not exactly certain how you’ll be feeling or how you should best approach the race. That’s why going into a race with a couple strategies is important; find out what each race means to you, what your own personal goal (or multi-goals) are, and then plan for what could happen based on the variables:

* The conditions
* The competitors and the moves they may make
* How your legs are feeling on that day

track racers
There are no sure things in running, racing, and life. Be prepared for what ‘could be’ and then be ready to roll with the punches.

1) What are some of the main reasons you race or goals you have going in? (ie: time, place, etc.)

2) How do you approach the race given your goal, do you come up with a strategy beforehand or do you just ‘run’?

3) Readjusting your goal or plan during a race can be difficult but necessary at times; was there a time you had to do that and how did you make the call?
Those days that you take off and the legs feel like lead, you know it’s not going to be pleasant; in those times it’s easiest to find a person and hold on…try not to lose contact and take your mind elsewhere…just don’t let a gap between you and them occur. You may not get the PR you set out for but you can still salvage the race.

4) What kinds of races do you prefer, the tactical ones or the ones where you are going after fast times?
I hate tactical races, but mostly because any time I race I’m the person with NO kick. ;)

5) Even if you just race to run and have fun it’s nice to have some goals too! If this is you, why are you excited to be there at the starting line and then finish?

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Childhood Obesity and Getting Active: The answer is not in blaming pollution

Oh, Runner’s World you’ve done it again. I got a really good laugh when I read their online headline screaming, ‘Is Pollution Making Us Fat?’ Seriously, could it have nothing to do with inhaling mass quantities of McDonald’s and constituting raising the spork as your daily exertion? Just saying.

fat runner

At least he's moving!

Obesity is a glaring problem, the saddest part comes from childhood obesity in my humble opinion. Skinny Runner just did a great post highlighting some recent controversy regarding children and weight. Should parents be putting their overweight children on diets and making the child aware that they are, in fact obese?

I’d say that’s a much more practical approach than blaming pollution and not changing any of your lifestyle habits, I don’t care how old you are. If you want something to change you have to, well, change something.

* Input versus output. Yes metabolism and diet isn’t as black and white as plain math, there are admittedly some other things to take into consideration, but for the most part it is not rocket science. If you go out and run 20 miles you obviously need to refuel and ingest a heck of a lot more calories than a child who does nothing more than channel surf all day.

* Move it. Exercise is healthy and hardly for weight loss/maintenance purposes alone. (Yes, being entitled to scarf my weight in Pop-tarts is a perk, but hardly the only one!) Exercise releases endorphins, improves your mood and has been found to help people suffering from mild bouts of depression or ‘the blues.’ Further, taking part in sports is linked to higher self-esteem, instilling a harder work-ethic, teaching the value that comes from accomplishing goals, and a myriad of other pluses. Even for adults holed away in a cubicle, taking exercise breaks has been shown to increase productivity in the office; you come back feeling refreshed and ready to tackle that mountain of work.

eating cotton candy

Hey, she put in her sweat session and eared that cotton candy! :)

* Shut the trap. Being a long distance runner brings to mind willowy silhouettes and lean athletes…that comes from running lots of miles and burning tons of fuel in the process. Without getting into a totally different tangent regarding the weight/food issues; for the most part distance runners do eat much more than the average person. That said, there are plenty of instances and people who DO need to shed a few and should curb back their intake. I hate the word ‘diet’ though because that is synonymous with deprivation…just make a few modifications to your portion sizes and opt for healthier alternatives. You can still have treats but just with moderation…it’s insane how misguided the masses are when it comes to general nutrition and for the most part just wising up and learning how to avoid stepping into obvious food blunders would help. (the salad swimming with dressing, nuts, etc. could be loaded with more fat and calories than the small burger.) Here, information is key.

Rather than telling people that they shouldn’t blame themselves for putting on the pounds because of increased global carbon dioxide, Runner’s World, perhaps look to your name and remind them they could run a little more! For the children, I think helping them get back to a healthy weight is a necessity…not that parents should go all Toddlers and Tiaras on them, but just be smart.

* Small changes and substitutions. As with anything, start small and gradually build up. If you’re increasing your weekly mileage only go up 10% each week to avoid getting hurt. As for that sandwich, double up on the veggies and maybe opt out of the cheese for awhile; pick mustard instead of mayo…easy stuff.

* Take the focus of exercise off of burning calories. Working out, whatever form it comes in, should be fun and something you look forward to. If you are only running because you want to look like a skinny Ethiopian you’re probably not going to last very long. Find what you love to do that makes you move.

* Half and half. I also think the people who only look at losing weight from the diet perspective are stupid; you could lose weight by only cutting calories but you won’t be increasing your muscle tone and could still wind up jiggly and with a heart lacking the benefits of some cardio. Workout in addition to making dietary changes; and know that in doing so, more muscle mass may mean that the scale isn’t the most reliable gauge…look at how your clothes fit and how you actually look. Do you still jiggle? ;)


Tell the kids, "All the cool crocodiles eat tofu dogs!" ;)

* Parents and kids. I don’t think you always have to tell the kids WHY they aren’t eating as many french fries, if you’re afraid of damaging their self-esteem. You’re the parents, just make the changes in the household, you’ll all benefit. Take family runs or soccer games at the park…if they ask why, just say, “Because I said so.”

Weight shouldn’t be the insane focus and issue that it is; sometimes over-thinking things just make it worse. Run because you love to run…refuel your body adequately…eat wisely but for 20 mile days that includes wolfing tons of calories…be smart and just do it. ;)

1) What’s your take on the whole obesity issue in general?
For adults I think it’s more a lack of motivation to do the changes necessary.

2) What about childhood obesity? If you’re a parent, if your child was obese what would you do, if anything?
This is something I feel really strongly about, it’s so sad to see 7 year olds that are obese…I think it’s crucial to make changes before they carry that into adulthood.

3) If you’re in the position of having to lose some weight what do you do to go about it sanely?

4) On the flip side, plenty of endurance athletes have trouble keeping the weight on, if that’s you what do you do?
Pop-tarts and Ben & Jerry’s! ;) I’m half-kidding, I look at is as first get in all the healthy staples and requirements and then add the fun foods on top of that.

5) The best reason to exercise totally non-weight related?
Endorphins baby, and trust me it keeps me sane! ;)

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Mental Games for Getting Through Tedious Cross-Training Workouts: The Chocolate Edition

Tuesday morning and I, admittedly a bit begrudgingly, took to the elliptical machine. (I swear I AM a runner, even if the last time I had an awesome, pain-free run seems like a far-off, distant memory…haha) Let’s be honest, when you’re wrought with an injury the mental part of getting in the cross-training can be as much of a challenge as the physical.
workout girl
All about the mind games. Distraction is key for me, so today I loaded up Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Johnny Depp edition, in the hopes that waterfalls of chocolate, gum-drops the size of my head, and Oompa Loompas would help make the time with my cross-training ‘pal’ pass a little quicker.

Mission complete, thank you Johnny D; even as a whacked-out chocolate peddler you are still a hottie in my eyes. ;) When the beast of cross-training feels almost unbearable and you’d rather torch the machine than get on it and sweat, here’s some mental games you can play, Chocolate Edition:

girl eating ice cream

Come dive into some sweet treats with me, mmmk! :)

* Break it down. I was going for 70 minutes, but I told myself I’m really only going to do 7×10 minute segments. Even further, I break the 10 minutes up into four chunks of 2.5 minutes; I sort of imagine that each quarter is just like doing a lap around the track…easy peasy. For this one though, maybe it’d be four laps around the perimeter of the Chocolate Factory…each time you pass the front gates you get a nice whiff of chocolatey goodness…the catch if you have to do all your laps before you are allowed inside! ;)

* Chocolate endorphins. Mr. Wonka himself clearly states, “Eating chocolate releases endorphins that make you feel happy!” Hmm…not unlike exercise itself! Ironically even if you’re in the worst possible mood and dreading starting the workout…once you get started those endorphins have a weird way of lightening the mood! Then you can certainly bathe yourself in chocolate afterwards…just don’t get the whole chocolate river sweaty and spoil it for the rest of us!

* Don’t peek! Mr. Wonka didn’t want anyone spying on the super secrets going down in his factory…I play this game with myself where I test how long I can go without peeking down at the little screen with the timer. That way I can be ‘surprised’ when I look down and “Gee-golly, look, it’s already been 10 minutes!” Stupid, maybe, but it works.

* Touch my dials, will you?! Charlie gets in a bit of trouble touching things he shouldn’t in the factory, but when it comes to workout machines, messing around with the variables can help pass the time. Adjust the tension level or incline every couple of minutes…actually if you do an interval session it’s crazy how time can fly during those! However those recovery minutes seem to pass by much faster than the harder bouts, am I right?! ;)

* Drool and daydream.Don’t underestimate the power of baiting yourself…promise yourself some kind of pick-me-up or reward for putting in the time. If it takes daydreaming about chocolate bars to keep you on the machine and finishing your workout…by all means. Mr. Wonka would be proud to know he is fueling your sweat session!

girls eating gumdrops

Art: Cait Chock Designs

* Stay the course. Eventually you WILL get back to running (unless you get sucked up that giant tube because you got caught swimming in the chocolate river!) and remind yourself that the time spent cross-training will make getting back into running form so much easier…trust me, you’ll be thankful you did it! Also, every injury and time off from running makes me all the more grateful upon returning to it…you don’t take those miles for granted!

Thank you, Mr. Wonka for your tour through your Oompa Loompa riddled factory…you helped take the sting of cross-training down a notch!

Who doesn’t like just plain silliness? Umm, anyone who doesn’t is not my friend! ;) If you haven’t caught two of the funniest and also Nation’s top harriers take part in a Eugene snow-ball fight, then you’re missing out. Check out Andrew Wheating and Russell Brown…I guess that’s how you spend your free time when you’re not training for the Olympics.

AND…if you haven’t yet, go enter yourself in my Road ID giveaway…running safety is Oompa Loompa important!

1) What was your last workout? If you got to run, I’m warning you I’m going to have a bit of runner envy! ;)

2) How do you play mental games to get through a ‘meh’ feeling when it comes to your workout or cross-training in particular?

3) Favorite type of candy? If you were in Mr. Wonka’s factory would you take a dive in the chocolate river?
Yes on the river…I’m a chocolate sweets kind of person, the hard candies and chews don’t do anything for me. Junior Mints are ranked mighty high on my list! :)

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Road Runner’s Safety: Road ID Review and Giveaway

I made the switch from “I hate running, who in their right mind would force us poor kids to run a WHOLE mile for PE?!” person to “I LOVE me my running” right before entering high school. I grew up in a suburban town and naturally all of my running was done on the roads.

My parents are both runners so I’d tag along with them whenever I wasn’t with my high school team; because I’m notoriously horrible with directions I think it wasn’t until I was nearly 18 that my parents actually felt comfortable letting me go solo lest I take off and never come back! ;)

I graduated, moved up to Oregon and my running addiction of course followed. I was completely comfortable as a road runner, probably too comfortable…let’s be honest who among us hasn’t raced through a green light because they didn’t want to stop, lest they impede their workout?! Of course I was a smart runner too and was well aware of road safety, which for the most part I DID adhere to.

runner hit by car

Art: Cait Chock Designs

11 years a road runner, never a problem outside of the scrapes I picked up for being a klutz! I stepped out for just a regular run one March afternoon in 2010 and it ended up changing my life. I was not a mile in, running in the bike lane just outside of a school, when I was hit by a driver. It ended up being a hit and run, you can read more about that accident HERE, but needless to say I was darn lucky to get away with my life. Not everyone is that lucky.

I’ve stated before that I only want to talk about products or items on this site that I believe in and feel are worth value to my readers. (I’m being generous to myself by making that plural! Hehe) When I started seeing Road ID I couldn’t have been a bigger backer. Today it’s imperative that runners and cyclists, anyone outside on the roads, continue their sport in a defensive manner. (run defensively people, because not everyone in their car should be driving and not all have their attention on the road!) Part of that includes being prepared for the worse.

I wasn’t left unconscious after getting hit by a car myself, but I could have been. Road ID is a safety measure; it’s a bracelet with an engraved plate stating who you are, your age, emergency contacts, and pertinent medical information. (ie: allergies, medical conditions, etc.) This way if something does happen to you the first people on the scene will be able to best proceed forward in giving you the right kind of care you need and can do all they can to save your life.

I was given the opportunity to test out one of the Road ID’s(I actually had already gotten one for my dad who is a regular road runner and cyclist!) and give a review. There are multiple different styles and sizes of Road ID’s to choose from; I have a really small wrist so I went with the Wrist ID slim. There are also some fun colors to choose from outside of the traditional black…pink, green, purple, blue, and red, which I went with.

Road ID

Yes I'm trying to distract you from looking at my face with a cool Road ID bracelet and tin! :)

Mine came in a cool metal tin and the bracelet really was small! For once I had to stretch it pretty good to get over my hand, but it’s perfect for my wrist…I usually have a horrible time finding watches that don’t slip all over. The Slim would be perfect for kids too.

The band is similar to those Livestrong bands and of the same materials if that gives you a better idea. The engraved portion is clear and easy to read, I put my name, date of birth, two contacts, that I have a low pulse rate (umm, most of us runners do!), no known allergies, and a quote I like to live by, “Stay the course.” What I also was impressed with it that 10% of everything purchased is donated to charity; for which there are a few to choose from as you check-out.

I really like it and again, the whole idea of safeguarding yourself as a runner out on the roads is something I firmly believe in. I may make light of my accident and subsequent kankle because of my leg injury (now we’ve got the Kankled Avenger) but it’s something serious. I tend to make jokes as a means to stay positive during tough situations, but it’s not to be confused with the fact that road safety is deadly serious.
girl kicking
Now, because of this, I have some good news for you guys. Road ID has generously allowed me to give to one lucky reader their very own Road ID! To be entered into the contest leave me a separate comment for any of the below:

1) Visit the Road ID website and tell me which one you would like to sport.
2) ‘Like’ the Road ID Facebook page and leave a comment saying you did.
3) ‘Like’ ME on Facebook and leave a comment saying you did.
4) Follow me on Twitter or subscribe to my blog and leave me a comment saying you did.
5) Tweet, Facebook, or blog about my giveaway and leave a comment saying you did.
6) Tell me one thing you do to run/cycle defensively on the road.

You have until Saturday to enter! Have a wonderful Monday, and go get your sweat on! :)

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This Runnerchick’s Priorities When En Route: If I’m traveling you can bet the first thing on my mind is where to get my run on

My housemates have been dog-sitting the past week and will taking care of Hans for another week. I’m an animal fan, have a cat, and am wanting a puppy here soon myself! So I welcomed the extra addition of hair, puffy dog bed, crate and of course Hans. But it got me thinking about how I handle traveling and staying outside my home, my room, my ‘territory’…or more to the point my running and workout terrier

I’ll be frank, any time I know I’ve got a vacation, ‘field trip’, road trip, or anything where I’ll be traveling, my mind goes to one thing first: how I’m going to get in my workout. Call me selfish, call me obsessedo, call me neurotic, I don’t care because maybe all of the above are true. If I’m going somewhere I better be darn sure I’ll be able to get my run in. Things are complicated if I’m injured and it’s then a matter of making sure there is a gym where I can cross-train.

Usually with running there are is at least somewhere to run outside; I once had to do loops around the hotel’s parking lot. It was boring as heck but at least it was another run in the books! But there are always more preferable options so I do a little research and, I fully admit, that I make my plans around my runs/workouts.
The selfish part would come in if I’m with other people, but I always do my best to not let my running/workout neurosis put a kink in their plans. Like I said, if I’ve got to do my 127 loops around the parking lot so be it.

The first place I go after I check into a new hotel isn’t to scope the view from the room it’s the hotel’s gym. (The second is to pry off that bed’s comforter! I’ve seen those 20/20 black light expose pieces! hehe) I scope out the treadmills and ellipticals, check out if there is a view of a TV, and I fully admit I get a little anxious if there is only, say, ONE measly treadmill. If I’ve got to get up early and only have a certain time frame for my workout and *gasp* someone else is on MY treadmill, what in the world am I going to do then? Is my plan foiled thanks to a walker on the treadmill?
fat walker
So yes, before anything else I peruse local gyms, nearby running routes, potential bike trails, actual trails, nearby neighborhood streets for which I can get my fix. My fix of miles. Others people have their must see locales, crave the cabanas on the beach, even take to the sea on a cruise…but this runnerchick’s got her priorities and if I’m ever held captive on a cruise there better be more than one treadmill also on board or the Nike Gods better help that poor soul who dares hog the machine when I want on it! ;)

1) How do you feel about traveling and going to new places? Are you one of those people who loves to travel as much as they can, or are you a bit of a homebody and stress about traveling?
I’m a weirdo…I do like traveling to a degree, but only so much as I make sure I’ve got a fair enough warning ahead of time and that I’m certain I’ll be able to get my little workout/run routine in. :)

2) Best tips for when you do travel and getting in those runs/workouts?
If I’m with other people I’ll get up early and do my thing before they workout. I scope out the nearby gyms if there isn’t one in the hotel, and I’m okay being bored on a running route and will just head out and do loops if there isn’t really anywhere awesome to go.

3) What’s the last vacation, road trip, or time you went away?
The one that sticks out in my mind was driving a UHaul down to CA…not fun…haha. But I had a stop-over and picked my exit based on the one that had a really nice YMCA for me to hit up in the morning. :)

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I’m Not Injured, I’m Just a Klutz: ‘Life Injuries’ and Injuries While Cross-Training

I’m a klutz. I’m one of those people who will wake up with a bruise and not know what it’s from. If I’m opening a package with any kind of hard plastic I’m sure to wind up with a cut trying to pry the thing open. I have no coordination and so I’m a runner…even then I have enough trouble staying erect.

french girl

You'll also never catch me in a shoe with heels over 1mm...FACEPLANT!! :P

Injuries stink and they come with being a runner, but the injuries or pulls, strains, niggling pains that come from a NON-running related event burn a million times more. Mostly because we have no one to blame but ourselves. (well, usually…getting hit by a car really sucks and in those cases there are others to blame…lol…well, kinda lol.)

The falls, the trips, the blood, the cracked bones, these can and do happen in life and as a runner when a ‘life injury’ keeps us from our favorite past-time it burns something fierce. I knew a runner who was taking the garbage can to the curb one dark night, slipped on some ice and ended up landing right on her tailbone. She had the Olympic Marathon Trials coming up mere weeks away and she thought she had broken it. Her tail bone ended up having a really bad bone bruise that healed up but she still couldn’t run for a few days.

injured runner

Sorry, yes to post this one again...but gotta get my mileage out of this because it's true! Haha.

I’ve fallen plenty of times running, to the point where I’ve been a bloody mess and gravel in my palms but I got up, finished the tempo run, then had the delight of washing the caked, bloody mess with disinfectant. Fun. Thankfully I guess my body’s just used to self-abuse due to idiotism and for the most part I’ve been lucky that most of these falls and other life injuries haven’t curtailed my running on too many occasions. Again, outside of the car debacle.

I recently just did an article for Competitor about getting injured while you’re injured: ‘Cross-Training 101: Avoiding Over-Training When Injured’. It’s possible to injure yourself in a new way, or re-injure yourself, when you’re already hurt and cross-training. Trust me, those sting too because you think, “What the heck, now I can’t even run for longer because of my cross-training routine?!”

It’s happened to plenty of us, my hip flexors like to scream at me when I’m delegated to the elliptical for long periods of time. There isn’t any activity that simulates running exactly, running is running. So while there are plenty of other options that can mimic it and give you a workout that will maintain that strength and endurance, they are all using slightly different muscles to do that.

The article also covers over-training while cross-trainng…oh, the over-zealous injured runner taking out all their fury out on the machines. They then end up over doing it and digging themselves into a hole of fatigue. Again, been there, done that, not fun.

We don’t live in a bubble…sometimes life and other activities can wind up leaving us injured and unable to get in those precious miles. (one of the main reasons, outside of fear, that I’ll never get on a skateboard…that’s got disaster for me written all over that!)
scooter boy
Accepting those running related injuries is manageable, but the other ones, they can unleash a runner’s fury like nothing else! Beware fellow klutzes, be safe out there. ;)

1) What was the last non-running related injury that you had? Or, what was the last ‘life injury’ that somehow left you mangled and forced to curtail your usual workout routine?

2) Are you a klutz and tend to wind up abusing the heck out of yourself by sheer accident?

3) When cross-training, what’s your usual go-to and have you ever injured yourself while cross-training?
I usually go the elliptical route and that wakes up my hip flexors; aqua-jogging also does that to them. But I know this so I give those hip flexors some extra TLC while I’m injured.

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The Hunger Games Get a Running Twist: Workouts that Awaken the Hungry Beast

Let’s talk The Hunger Games. I’ll be honest, I don’t usually fall into the mass hysteria type trends; I have never read nor seen a Twilight installment, we all know how I feel about P90X, and I have yet to hyperventilate due to Bieber Fever.

audrey hepburn

Did you laugh yourself hungry? ;)

Then everyone started talking about how epic The Hunger Games books were and how they were even more excited when they saw the trailer for the movie. My interest was piqued, but then anyone I talked to was so mysterious when it came to describing said book. “Well, it’s kind of hard to explain, I can’t really without spoiling it. All I can say is you HAVE to read it.” Hmmm, thanks for the glowing review, could you be any more vague?

So what I then started to picture in my mind was a cross between some weird eating disorder stand-off, Survivor-esque torches and challenges somehow involving food, and maybe even some feats of strength. (Double points to anyone who just thought of Seinfeld at that last one.)

Eventually I DID in fact read the first book, thanks to my brother who hates reading telling me that it’s his favorite book and he couldn’t put it down…that said something coming from the high school sophomore. I scorched through the book in time so that he and I could go see the movie when it comes out this Friday. How awesome that he just informed me that he bought tickets for the 12am showing…the kid is the best especially since he’s got school later in the day, but c’mon a person’s got to have priorities!

rugby runner

Check my lil' bro run! He's got all the coordination I lack...and then some

I will say the book is great and I’m looking forward to the movie, however a part of me is a bit disappointed that none of my imagined plot lines or scenes were anywhere in the book. So without further adieu, I think I’ll share a version of The Arty Runnerchick’s Hunger Games: What didn’t make the cut:

* You want hungry? We’ll start of course with a morning long run, but not your ordinary long run. To really get the pistons firing on all cylinders and really spike that metabolism we know that intervals are the key here. So what better way to wake up the bottomless pit stomach monster than combining BOTH intervals and lots of miles…oh yes, we went there.

* Marathon training awakens the beast. Remember our first running comic episode (Runner’s Strip: Marathon Dad)? I think it illustrates our point well. Not all of your long runs should be hard, we know this, most are just getting the distance in. However, every so often adding a tempo or harder intervals (think mile repeats or 2 mile or 3 mile repeats) within the long run will set you up for success. A progressive long run is another way to go where you break those miles up into segments; warm-up/slightly slower than marathon pace/marathon pace/slightly faster than marathon pace/half marathon pace/etc. I even read that one of the top marathoners would end his long run at the track and do that last mile literally all out. You don’t have to go that far, but progressively lowering the pace is a great way to condition yourself to negative split.

running for cake

Our Cake Runner.

* Weight session. Muscle burns more calories than fat, make yourself more lean muscle and you’ll be elevating your metabolism all day even while you snooze. Let’s hit the weight room and for us long distance folks we’re going for lower weights and higher repetitions…do them circuit style so you don’t get rest between and you keep your heart rate up.

* Plyo it out. Plyometrics are explosive efforts and, similar to intervals, they spike your metabolism and keep it elevated hours afterwards in what is called the ‘after burn’ effect. Interestingly, you could then be famished more from a shorter but intensive plyo session than than a steady state run that lasted longer.

* And then we drool. We all know as athletes we should refuel within 30 minutes of finishing our sweat sessions…this is CRUCIAL! :) You wait until after those 30 minutes and your muscle’s and body’s recovery rate drops by at least 60%. But because it is the Hunger Games after all, we now must wait and ogle over all the glorious mounds of foodset before you. Here is where we go Survivor style.

tough boy

Did you own our hunger games?

Nope, none of this was in the actual Hunger Games, but do any of the above and I’m sure you’ll be hungry. Gotta feed the beast! ;)

1) Did you read The Hunger Games? Are you planning on seeing the movie?

2) What workouts leave you the most famished? Do you have those days where you feel like you’ve got a hollow stomach?

3) Do you have anything that should be added to our new take on The Hunger Games?

4) Favorite recovery food? Then food you most often dream about while working out?
Eggs and some kind of doughy carb/Pop-tarts or sweet doughy carb…hehe

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The Pain Drain: Keeping Your Brain in Check When the Pain Sets In

“Being a distance runner is about handling pain. If you can’t manage pain, you probably won’t end up as a distance runner.” I love this quote from Kara Goucher featured in an excellent read from Running Times, ‘Pain: Deal With it.’
kara goucher
Okay, you had me at the title on that last one. But it’s true, pain and distance running trot hand in hand; as runners we often lie to ourselves about that, it’s a bit of a coping mechanism I suppose. If we didn’t to a degree deny how much it will hurt those last few miles or at the end of that race we may be hard pressed to actually start!

Certainly there are varying degrees of pain; full on grueling the last lap of the 10k, digging deep on that last 800 meter repeat, and the discomfort of training day in and day out. Discomfort, even ‘easy’ runs aren’t a walk in the park, you still are working out there and getting your heart rate up, the lungs working, the legs pounding the pavement so to speak.

If we wanted to be loafers then we could coin the term, but we’re not, we are runners and being as such we learn to deal with the pain.The pain that in a twisted sort of way we run towards. The way we feel afterwards is worth it.


Punch pain in the face.

I did a long post on the art of visualization HERE and also how lying to yourself works wonders HERE. The Running Times article has tips from multiple top distance runners. Some general themes:

* Zoning out. Distraction from the pain is key, by zoning out you really try to limit thoughts. Pinpoint a spot on the back of the person in front of you, look dead ahead and don’t lose contact with that fixed point. Mantras can also help with this, pick a single phrase and repeat it until it’s in sync with your breathing or footsteps and repeat it like a robot…zooooone out.

* Control what you can. Think of your form; Kara Goucher, “I try to think about positive things — how great my form is, how my arms are swinging, my breathing, how loud people are cheering. My sports psychologist taught me there are a million things telling you you can’t keep going, but if you find the things that say you can, you’re golden.” Keep your torso tall, don’t hunch over, keep your arms swinging and your legs will follow.

* Callousing through training. Training and workouts are all race simulations, not just physically, but chances to callous the mind just as you do the body. Here are prime opportunities to test out different ‘mental tricks’ and find what works for you. The more often you push yourself and get cozy with the feeling of being uncomfortable the more you’ll ‘get used to it’ and know how to deal with it.

* Break it down. Take the run/workout/race and break it down into easier to digest segments; whether that be lap by lap, mile by mile, or five minutes at a time. Tell yourself you can easily go through one more mile…get there and then tell yourself the same thing again. ;)

* Confidence. This sounds a little odd, but take confidence in the workouts and hard work you’ve done in the past. Remembering that you’ve faced this pain and come out the victor plenty of times in the past should give you the confidence that you can handle it this time and achieve the times/goals you set.

jelly belly running

And some people daydream of food as distraction...guilty! :)

Breaking down your own mental barriers is an ongoing process; it’s interesting how you’ll be met with challenging points in workouts, races, or runs that when you finish you think to yourself, “Okay, I definitely just pushed though to a whole new level.”

1) How do you deal with the pain of hard workouts, races, long runs, or runs where you certainly aren’t feeling it? What is your favorite distraction trick?
Zoning out or breaking it down is usually my go-to.

2) Easy runs and general training comes with a level of discomfort, if it were a cake walk everyone would be setting World Records and running a million miles a week! How do you gauge your training to make sure you keep the intended workout at the proper level of exertion? (ie: use a heart rate monitor, chuck the watch on easy runs, go off of feel, etc.)

3) Did anyone race this weekend? If so do tell, if not, what did you do?

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And a Wee Bit ‘O Luck to Ya…

Yes, Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! I could also say St. Patty’s Day but every time I do it makes me think there should really be a Happy York Peppermint Patty’s Day somewhere around here too. ;)
leprechaun runner
I hope you’ve all been having a great one and doing a little celebrating yourself. I’m not a drinker, so if you are feel free to have my leftover beers. I do love everything green, though, and you could find me noshing on some green chocolate chip pancakes. (My dad used to make those for us when I was a kid on St. Patty’s Day.)

It’s a fact that my all-time favorite color is lime green and so let’s hear it for a few more oh-so cliched Irish holiday inspired items:

* Don’t steal my lucky shamrock. Do you believe in luck? Do you have little trinkets, rituals, or things you swear to others you know don’t really bring you luck but you have them/do them anyways just because, well, it couldn’t hurt? Hey, I own up to the fact that whenever I see a clock reading 11:11 I make a wish to myself. ;)

* Leaping Leprechauns! Those little guys have springs on their legs, or maybe they have just been doing a ton of plyometrics. ;) I HATE doing those plyo’s, this girl can’t jump, but they work wonders for your speed. So get to jumping like a wee, green man!

* Corned beef and cabbage, say what? I’m not a big corned beef fan, I do like cabbage. But don’t shy away from all red meats if you do like them because they have iron, which is super important for runners! If you don’t like red meats (guilty) then seek out other iron rich foods…hey, spinach is a leafy green that contains a lot of iron. It could be cut into the shape of a clover too…maybe. Teehee.
* Pranksters! I wish I were really good at pulling off great pranks and such but I am so gullible that I usually end up being the one pranked. That said I use sarcasm like it’s going out of style and plenty of times people think I’m being serious and sometimes that gets me in a wee bit ‘o trouble.

* Spuds! I am in love with the spud, I’ll take me my fair share of potatoes and then some. My favorite is probably a big ‘ol baked potato loaded with chicken, broccoli…and actually cottage cheese. Is that last one weird? I don’t care, I like it. And for you skin haters…you’re missing out, the skin of the potato contains nearly all of the awesome vitamins and nutrients found in the potato…so choke the skin down if you have to. Jk.

* Friends and merry, good times. You picture people celebrating St. Patty’s Day and you think of parties, people, and good times. I’m all for that…whether you are a fellow sweat obsessed runner or not, you can be my friend. :)
skate boarder
Have a wonderful Saint Patrick’s Day and I think I’m going to talk to someone about instituting a York Peppermint Patty’s Day too! ;) (naturally then, we’ll need a Junior Mints Day…just saying.)

1) What did you/are you doing for St. Patty’s Day?

2) What is your favorite St. Patty’s themed item?

3) Do you believe in ‘luck’ or do you have a lucky item/ritual?

4) Do you like potatoes? Are you a fan of corned beef and cabbage? How do you make sure you get enough iron? Pick any of those and answer…hehe.

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