Top Ten Tuesdays – The Un-bookish Blogs I Read

Courtesy of The Broke and the Bookish, here are… The Top Ten Blogs I Read that are NOT Book-Related Home Decorating Blogs I start with this category because they’re the ones that got me into blogging. A friend introduced me … Continue reading

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The Running Community

Since becoming a runner, one of the things I’ve really come to appreciate about the sport is the community.

I’ve been running regularly for about 10 months now, and am feeling less and less like a fake. The times when I feel most like a runner are…

1. Weekend long runs

My alarm (either internal or external) generally goes off by 7:00 on Saturday mornings, and I’m laced up, granola bar’d, and on the trail by 7:30. Although I’m a solo runner, opting to spend the 6-10 miles with my audiobook, I never feel lonely. I’m bound to pass another runner friend, a piano student’s parent, a member of my gym, or just other runners out doing a training run that morning. There’s even one woman, whom I’ve never officially met, that I’ve named Carla in my head. I see Carla every Saturday morning without fail, running with her water bottles strapped around her waist, then generally bump into her at races, as well.

As a runner, every time you run by someone, it’s polite to say a “Good morning!” or at least give a little wave. Often, you’ll pass the same person going back the other direction. The second time, it’s customary to say “Hello… again!” or share a little laugh. The joke never gets old–you’ve got to do something to entertain yourself while you’re out there.

Then there are the strong runners who fly by at my sprint pace–even though they’re running twice as many miles as I am. My favorites are the ones that give an encouraging thumbs up or even a “Good work!” It may sound cheesy, but those little encouragements can go a long way.

2. Running stores

Gary Gribble’s Running Sports is the mecca of all running stores in the KC area. It’s a great place for running shoes and apparel, as well as accessories like running gloves, hats, and water bottles. You can even score all kinds of running memorabilia like coffee mugs, lanyards, headbands, and bumper stickers sporting the ever-popular 26.2 or 13.1 logo.

Walking into Gary Gribble’s makes me feel like my hobby is legit. I walk over to the glove section, and peruse the 50+ choices. An employee comes over to help me:

“What are you looking for today?”

“Well, I’m thinking I need some gloves.”

“Let me show you our options: these $50 gloves have three sweat-wicking layers, insulated in fleece. The $25 gloves are our thinnest and sport a pocket for your car key. These $800 gloves actually communicate with your tennis shoes and ensure that your hands and feet are moving in perfect harmony to propel you forward at the optimal pace dependent on the incline of the path and the length of your stride.” (Okay, I made that last one up…)

“Gosh, I just don’t know. There are so many choices…”

“I guess you just have to ask yourself how cold your hands get.”

“They get pretty cold. Even a little numb.”

The employees at Garry Gribble’s are also so encouraging. The company often holds training runs, and sets up water stations along running routes. One time, I was out on a 10-miler, trying out the fancy new water bottle I’d purchased earlier in the week. I couldn’t get any water out! I felt like a total idiot, until I ran by the lady who’d sold it to me, walking from one water station to the next.

“Excuse me!” I said. “I’m sorry, but I recognize you from Garry Gribble’s. Could you tell me the trick to this water bottle?”

“Oh sure!” She responded, and gave me a quick tutorial right there on the path.

On my way back, I passed one of her water stations.

“How’s that water bottle working now?” she asked.

“Just great!” I answered. “Thanks for the tip!”

3. Water stations

Sometimes on a long run I’ll get lucky and run by a water station that is set up for a running group that morning. “Hey! Come get some water!” They’ll often call. And I just can’t pass them up. You stand around the water cooler for a minute or two, sipping from a Dixie cup.

“How far are you running today?”

“Eight. You?”

“Fifteen.”

“Wow! What are you training for?”

“The Des Moines marathon. You?”

“The Kansas City half.”

“Good luck! That’s awesome!”

“Have a good run!”

(Fast forward a couple of weeks.)

“Hey! How’s the training going?”

So much encouragement! I love it.

4. Race Expos

I LOVE packet pick-up. Walking around, checking out upcoming events and running apparel. I’ve become a sucker for those cheesy running shirts, like: “I’m only half crazy,” or “I don’t go all the way.” I’m loving all those new running headbands, and plan to invest in some soon. Probably the one that says: “Will run for ice cream,” or maybe, “I’m a wine drinker with a running problem.”

5. Race Day!

No words can explain the endorphin kick that comes from a good race. Thousands of runners, warming up, stretching, listening to “Pumped Up Kicks” over and over again. The spectators with their awesome signs: “You’ve got stamina! Give me a call…” “Your feet hurt from all that ass you’re kicking!” or just “Go, Mommy!” even though they’re not my kids.

Then there’s that awesome feeling of walking around afterwards, sweaty and disgusting, a medal around your neck, eating a banana and drinking a chocolate milk. Chocolate milk really makes me feel like a runner.

It’s these times that get me out of bed at 4:45 on Mondays and Wednesdays, and that keep me hitting the trail every Saturday morning. It’s these reasons that I’m signed up for nine more races this season. Moral of the story? I love being a runner and being a part of this community.

‘Tis the Season

Well, folks, running season is in full swing. I kicked it off with the Rock the Parkway half-marathon, and since then, have gotten a little registration-happy. Here’s my race calendar so far:

Seeing it all typed out makes me feel a teensy bit crazy, but also super-stoked. I went to Michael’s last weekend and bought all the supplies necessary to make my own race medal display. After this season, I’m gonna have that baby filled right up!

How I Rocked the Parkway

Over the past few months, I’ve shared bits and pieces of my training for Rock the Parkway, a rather large, springtime Kansas City half-marathon. After my last half-marathon in October, I’d struggled with some disheartening ITBS issues, but after much … Continue reading

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First “Official” Run of the Season

Today marks the beginning of my official training for the Rock the Parkway half marathon. After work today, I will log my first 3.5 miles that count towards my goal of completing my third half-marathon.

I started running again at the beginning of the month, building my mileage up slowly in order to ease my IT band back into the rhythm of the road. Now, though, is when the running really starts to count–and I’m so excited!

For those of you who are interested, here is the training plan I’m following: Rock the Parkway Training Plan

Using a plan that my personal trainer gave me back in June as a base, I’ve modified it a bit. I added one more long run (an 11-miler) and tapered off the week before the race. I’m hoping these changes will also help me to avoid the ITBS I experienced after my last half.

Wish me luck!

The Grocery Score

I’m a creature of habit. This is no joke. I have two breakfasts that I eat. I drink two cups of coffee each morning. I set my alarm for the same time every morning. We go to First Watch every Sunday. I run every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, and strength train on the off days. And before my long runs, I eat a South Beach Living High Protein Cinnamon Raisin Bar

… At least, I did.

… Until they were discontinued in all the grocery stores in the Kansas City area.

After realizing that I’d eaten my last South Beach bar, and being unable to find a place to replenish my stock, I tried to find a replacement. I’m very picky when it comes to protein & granola bars…

a) I can’t stand the texture of most protein bars. That rubbery, unnatural “food” sits on my stomach in as just a rubbery and unnatural way when I hit the pavement.

 

b) Most protein bars have just as much sugar as a candy bar.

 

c) Most protein bars are 200+ calories… which just seems like a lot for a pre-exercise snack.

 

d) Lower-calorie granola bars often have only 2-3g of protein… not enough to keep me goin’ through a longer 6-10 miler.

The fabulous thing about South Beach bars was that they were none of these things. They had a granola-y texture, just 8g of sugar, only 130 calories, and 9g of protein. AND they were so easy on my stomach that I could literally eat one on my way out the door on a run. FABULOUS!

I tried Snickers Marathon Energy bars (the dark chocolate has 11g of protein, 9g of sugar, and 150 calories). They were… fine. However, they fell under category A as listed above, and with that extra gram of sugar were floating closer to category B as well.

I tried 1/2 Tbsp peanut butter on half of an english muffin. But that ranked in at only about 4g of protein. I could have upped the peanut butter, but PB is so calorie-laden, and it requires more pre-run digestion time. It just wasn’t working for me.

A piece of fruit just didn’t do the trick since it has a negligible amount of protein.

Anyway, as you can tell from the length of this post so far, I care quite deeply about my South Beach bars. So, you can understand my EXCITEMENT when, sauntering down the grocery story aisle, I came across these babies:

Snackwell Cinnamon Raisin Protein Bars

The picture on the front of the box caught my eye because it’s literally the exact same picture as was on my beloved South Beach bars. I checked out the nutrition information, and it was nearly identical! (Lacking only ONE gram of protein.) I have yet to give them a try, because I’d already done my long Saturday run, but you can bet next Saturday I’ll be pumped to down one of these babies before firing up my audiobook and lacing my sneakers.

P.S. This particular trip to the grocery store was even more successful when I found these:

Jimmy Dean Turkey Sausage Crumbles

Another of our favorite “staple” foods, these turkey sausage crumbles are getting harder and harder to find. They’re so perfect in my egg white, mushroom, and cheese breakfast scrambles that I’ve been known to visit grocery stores all around the area in pursuit of their spicy goodness.

Update: (FYI: I just visited the FAQ page on the South Beach Diet Bars website, and apparently they’re remarketing these bars with a new name: South Beach Diet Protein Fit Cereal Bars. They should be in nationwide distribution by mid-January 2012. Which is like… NOW!)

 

Back in Business

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen of the blogosphere, I’m back in business. No, I’m not returning to my roadside beanie baby bed stand. Unfortunately, I believe that ship has sailed. But, after two and half months of elliptical trainers and Stairmasters, I’ve finally been able to start running again. This time, though, I’ve armed myself with a battery of anti-ITBS weaponry–that is, tricks and trades to keep that painful aching tendon at bay.

1. The Foam Roller

Foam Roller

I’ve been using this puppy religiously for 5-10 minutes after each and every run. For the video I watched to learn how to roll out my aching IT band (or “illiotibial tract”), click here. I’ll warn you–it is hella painful at first. (Yes, I used the word hella. It’s not generally a piece of my vocabulary, but seems most fitting to describe the sensation of squeezing all the lactic acid out of those hard-set knots.) BUT, as this article explains, and I whole-heartedly agree with, the foam roller has magical qualities, and is much cheaper than recurring trips to a massage therapist.

This is how I roll...

2. The Resistance Band

I was fortunate enough to be gifted these by one of the trainers we frequently work out with at the gym. Little did he know they were exactly what I needed for some extra IT band protection. Now, after my runs, I put the band right over my knees:

Then I do a little of this:

Side steps

Then some of this:

Leg Lifts

And a little of that:

Bridge

By strengthening my hips and thighs, and targeting that outer hip area that I’ve targeted as my “problem area” for IT band pain, I’m hoping to build up some strength for those longer distances.

3. The Pigeon

"The "Pigeon"

After learning this pose in Yoga, it’s one I turn to often. Now, hardly a day goes by that I don’t spend a couple minutes doin’ the pigeon. (I just got this great visual of “The Pigeon” as some kind of dance, involving a lot of head bobbing and arm flapping.)

4. This Stretch

Cross-Knee Stretch

Okay, I don’t know the name for this stretch. But it’s a good one. Just cross one ankle over the opposite knee, roll onto your back, and pull your legs in towards your chest. (P.S. You don’t have to lay down, but it makes for a pretty nice lower-back stretch, then, too.)

5. This Stretch

Standing Stretch

Alright, so I don’t actually know the name for this one either, but was recently introduced to it by a fellow runner. It seems to do the job, too.

I’m now doing what I call “pre-training training” for another half-marathon. As you know, I enjoyed my last one so much, and was super-bummed that my IT band pain kept me from competing in the Thanksgiving Gobbler Grind. A few weeks ago, I started by just running a mile, then stretching, stretching, stretching. Then I upped it to two miles and stretched, stretched, stretched. Now, I’m up to three- to four-mile runs, and am still (knock on wood) pain free. I’m hoping that with my collection of gadgets, and diligent stretching, I’ll be able to effectively train for and run the Rock the Parkway half-marathon in April.