Monday, October 8, 2012

Running - What Works For Me

(Because I know you haven't heard enough about running from me lately...)

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 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.
I figure if you're not a runner, you stopped reading this post a long time ago.  If you made it to the end, thanks - I know it was a long one.  And if you have any favorite running things, I'd love to hear about them in the comments!


  1. oooh or if youre not a runner youre MORE INTRIGUED....

  2. I don’t eat before my morning runs either and I don’t think you need to eat for short runs if you don’t want too. I only eat if I have a run planned that’s over an hour, everything before that I can do on an empty stomach. I know it’s recommended that you should eat before but everybody’s different. I recommend that you do what works for you.

    And as for the training, I agree with you on this too. A training plan is fine, in fact I have to have one for structure, but adjusting it to what fits best for you is great. I run 3 times a week and most schedules have 4 to 5 runs a week. I always pick the 3 runs that benefit me the most and forget about the other runs in the schedule.

    My gear: I love my Edward (Garmin 305) and I never leave without my Ipod. I never buy any other brand than Brooks Adrenaline shoes. My clothes have to be of a brand (mostly Asics) because running clothes have to fit. I don’t wear running skirts, I never wanted to try them either. I’ll stick to capri’s in Summer and long thights in Winter. I wear more than enough skirts and dresses to work, I don’t want to run in it, but that’s personal.

    And … you didn’t lose me along this post. In fact you had me at “Running, what works for me” :)

    1. You don't have to wear shorts in the summer? Dang, I need to move to Holland...I would overheat and pass out if I ran in capris!

      And I agree with you - the schedules where you are supposed to run up to 5 times a week are just too hard on this body. Maybe if we were in our 20s? ;)

    2. I'm easily cold that's why I wear capri's no matter what the weather but there are days even I could wear shorts. Of course there are always people who are hot soon who wear shorts all Summer and capri's in Winter but I'm not one of them :)

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I'm a "runner" who struggles with my own aches and pains. I still enjoy running even though I'll never be good at it. I've made a return to running after 1 year absence, too.

    I enjoyed reading your gear list.

  4. Yeah, like Carla said. Kind of like a look into the "secret life of runners." I enjoyed!

  5. I love all your running accessories Shelley! You'd laugh in what I work out in - mostly t-shirts that are 15+ years old with stains on them!

    And my shoelaces don't match my shirt - wtf?! I think you are absolutely correct - making a running schedule fit to your body makes perfect sense.

    Happy Monday!

    1. No no no - not the shoelaces, the headband. Shoelaces would just be silly. ;)

  6. You gotta make it work for you. Last year I followed the running schedule to the letter and ended up with a nice little calf injury.

    LOVE Experia socks. I want more! Worth every penny of those $14.

    Missed you guys Saturday. Was a beautiful day. Honestly, last year the obstacles were better. They seemed to phone it in this year.A couple of the obstacles were a bit dangerous though. People were getting hurt a lot.

    1. I saw a pair of teal colored Experias when I was in California, didn't buy them (what was I thinking?!?) and have coveted them ever since. Socks! But they are that nice, right!?

  7. OK, I'd like to know who is advising you to eat before shorter runs? There's all sorts of studies out there that have proven over and over that most folks can run up to an hour without eating at all!! On your longer runs? Yes, I think you should be eating a bit more (not volume, but higher calorie), but if you can't, you can't. Plus, you're good with Gu so you can always start sucking that down every 40 minutes or so and you'll do just fine.

    Also, I believe every training group should have a couple of programs: one for beginners and one for experienced runners. After everything you've been through, you are basically a beginning runner and now way should you be running as much as a seasoned runner. Just my .02. At lest you have figured out what's working and that's really all that's important!

    As for gear, I'm not a hat wearer even in summer but I do like my LL Bean Fleece Ear Band in winter. I also like Champion seamless bras, Body Glide, Thorlo socks, Moving Comfort 7" compression shorts for summer, Brooks fleece lined running pants for winter, the best wicking shirts I can find, and of course my good old Garmin 305.

    1. I think you have a good point on skill level with the running club. I guess ours is not big enough to divide like that, but I think it would help a lot of people.

      BTW, I was telling a running club friend about how you walked me through learning about my new Garmin over the phone - what a fun memory! :)

    2. My friend Karen just bought a Forerunner 910XT based on my recommendation - no I'm not lucky enough to own one - she's a multi-sport athlete so I knew she'd love it. When it came in she brought it to work for me to set up for her hahahahaha! (It is similar to the 305 so I managed.)

  8. I like that you modify the plans to suit you. I think we too often feel pressured to follow plans specifically and then get discouraged if you can't keep up.

    For technical stuff - I really, really love the YMX yellowman shirt I won from your blog. Love it! I guess for me that is the difference between getting a TJMaxx shirt and a more higher end one LOL! John is jealous of my shirt, too :D

  9. This is such a great post. Half the battle IS getting to the start line.

  10. My favorite running thing is the water in my shower. HA!!!! So kidding. I think you are an amazing and inspirational runner Shelley. I wish you lived here and you could help me train for the warrior dash.... Have a great week.

  11. Love this post! I am going to try some of your recommendations!

  12. Hi!

    I am really enjoying your blog!

    I’ve been nominated for Liebster Award and wanted to pay it forward by nominating your blog for one too!

    The Rules:
    1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
    2. Answer the 11 questions the person giving the award has set for you.
    3. Create 11 questions for the people you will be giving the award to.
    4. Choose 11 people to award and send them a link to your post. Go to their page and tell them.
    5. No tag backs.

    Happy blogging!

  13. Not a runner who struggles - simply a runner. Fast or slow - everyone is a runner.

  14. Nice List! I just bought a pair of brooks ghost that I am breaking in for the marathon. I love thorlo socks but have not seen them in Munich. I no longer run with music. I would say that my donut hole water bottle is one of my favorite accessories to run with when it is warm. It doesn't tire my hand out holding it and I have something refreshing to drink as I do my cool down. I own a Polar watch and a nike GPS. The nike watch is fun and keeps track of mileage which is all that I really need it to do and there is a fun website where they cheer you on. I don't eat before a run but I do drink a cup of expresso. For long runs, I carry an organic pineapple bar. Yummy!

  15. If I eat before I run, I usually end up with heartburn, and that's no fun at all in the middle of a long run or race. So I learned to just not eat. (I will do sports beans during a marathon though, sometimes it's the lesser of 2 evils. :)

    As for shoes, I've run long races in 3 different brands now, Mizuno, Pearl Izumi, and Brooks; I am a Brooks fan for sure. The Mizuno's almost hobbled me after my 1st half marathon. The PI's are great and I'd run a race in them in a pinch, but the Brooks... they are by far the best shoes I have run in to date. I do want to try the Newton's though. I understand they really help improve your form. Right now they are out of my price range, but someday I'm going to try them.


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