Not being a seasoned runner, nor one who is in particularly great shape, has brought me lots of challenges this year. While I'm thrilled to be able to run again, I have to say that it's not easy for me...you aren't going to come here and ever read that I had an "easy 8 miler" - oh heck no. I'm not that kind of runner. Between my ongoing aches and pains, my non-lithe-runner-body, the fact that I only ran for about a year before being sidelined with my ankle injury and then had to take a year off from running, it's become apparent to me that I will probably always be a runner who struggles. But, I like running. So I've had to figure out how to make it work for me, seeing as I'm working pretty hard for it. Here's what I've figured out, so far:
Against most recommendations, I don't eat anything before my weekly short runs, and I only eat half of a Powerbar Fruit Smoothie bar before my long run on Saturdays. My stomach just doesn't do well with food early in the morning, which is when I run, and by giving myself permission to not try and force food, I've been much more comfortable during those long runs. Now that I'm into a lot of miles on Saturday, I eat more carbs toward the latter part of the week - usually something with rice on Thursday, and "dry" pasta (spaghetti noodles sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper - no oil or sauce) on Friday. Fruit works well for adding in carbs, but I have to be careful to not up the fiber too much or my delicate stomach rebels. I also drink a lot of water and usually have some Gatorade as well on those days...remember, we are still in the throes of heat and humidity here in Texas, and sweat like crazy when we run.
While I follow USAFit's 26-week program for my training plan, I adapt it to work for me and my slightly broken-down body. I think one of the reasons that I got injured two years ago was that I pushed my mileage too soon - I was training for a race that was three months before our official goal race, and my mileage increased from 4 to 10 miles in just a matter of 4 weeks, which is way more than the recommended 10% increase per week. This was probably my biggest mistake, and the one thing that has caused the most long-lasting harm.
In the comments on a recent post, Debby asked if the in-between training run distances stay the same. Her question made me look at our training schedule, which is something I haven't done in a while. USAFit has us scheduled to run on certain days, and while I've been doing that, I don't do everything they suggest (like speedwork; but hey, at least I did do the hillwork). I made a decision for this time around to take it kind of easy on the daily runs in hopes of preserving my creaky bones enough to make it to the starting line of the race. For example, when we started out in June, Monday's run was only 30 minutes; now it's supposed to be 40. Two weeks ago, after my left foot was hurting so much, I decided to forgo the Monday run altogether in hopes that two complete days of rest after the long run would help.
I think the most important thing about a training schedule is making it work for you as far as how much your body can take - and only you know the difference between pushing yourself and pushing yourself too much. For me, I'd rather be conservative and make it to the start line of the race, than automatically do every training run just because it's on the schedule. So from now until December, I'm only going to run on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday - again, my goal is to get to the start line, because it's no fun to miss the races that you've signed up for.
Everyone has their peculiarities when it comes to running gear. What one person loves, another can't stand. I'm always interested in what other runners like, so I figure you might be, too. Here's a list of what I love (links included to help with visuals; I don't get any compensation from these companies):
- Adidas Grete running skirt - I bought this in California, and love the lightweight fabric and the gathered dropped waist - I think it's a flattering look, and the lighter fabric has been wonderful for running in the heat. Their liner shorts, however, are pretty useless - they're not tight at all, and it would be chafe-city for me - except that I wear a pair of my own liner shorts under it. I should just cut them out of the skirt to omit a layer.
- Newton running shoes - they aren't for everyone, but I love them. Just to be sure, recently I tried on some other brands of shoes at our running store and for me, there was no comparison. I'll be sticking with the Newtons!
- Flat shoe laces - I have a problem with my shoes staying tight on my feet. This has always been an issue for me, no matter what kind of shoe. I tried using Yankz elastic laces, which worked great on my right shoe, but were too tight on my left, where I have a bone spur on the top of that foot. Since I started using the flat shoe laces I usually only have to retighten my shoes once during a long run, which is a big improvement from the 3-4 times with the rounded laces that come with the shoes.
- Socks - I'm a Thorlo Experia fan. Great cushioning, fun colors, and they work for me. I tried to get Jeff on the Experia bandwagon but he likes a thinner sock. I'll still run with him, though.
- Never thought I'd run without a hat or visor, but I've really enjoyed wearing the Sweaty Band headbands, and of course, I have fun coordinating them to my shirt color!
- Sports bras - I'm always on the lookout for the perfect bra. While I still think there's room for improvement, the Moving Comfort Maia continues to be my go-to sports bra. I tried the Shock Absorber, and while the fabric is really soft and comfortable, there was more bounce than I'd like, especially when I was doing a hill workout. Plus it has a really weird hook system that can be a challenge to get into, especially when you're not quite awake.
- Technical shirts - as long as they're not skin-tight, I'm good with any brand. I have a couple of Icebreakers merino wool shirts that I really love, but they're super expensive, so I mostly stick with Nike, Under Armour, and whatever else I find at TJ Maxx or on sale elsewhere.
- My trusty Garmin 305, aka Ricky Bobby. While I love the looks of the much smaller new Garmin 10, I'll stick with good old Ricky Bobby as long as he keeps working.