Thursday, February 24, 2011

running 201

disclaimer: These are all opinions. Of mine. Because this is my blog. I never "learned" to run, and I probably do a lot of things wrong. I never had a coach. I'm sharing what I've learned from experience, and like most things in my life (baking, photography, parenting, this blog), I make it up as I go.

disclaimer: I got a few comments and one nasty email about how running is not the only form of exercise. I know this. It's not the only form of exercise I participate in either, and I fully appreciate and encourage all forms of sports, exercise, and general booty shakin. However, running is a HUGE part of my life, it's changed my life, and therefore I wanted to share it. Thank you, you're welcome.

disclaimer: this post is really wordy, and really un-photo-y. you asked for it.

disclaimer: this post was written really late at night early in the morning, hence lots of made up words, and perhaps things that maybe don't make sense....

I am still in awe at how many of you responded to last weeks running post! wow!! Here's a part two, with answers to your questions.

salt lake city marathon/half marathon 2009.
Picture 6

In last weeks post, I talked about heading down to your local running store and having someone who KNOWS what they are doing fit you for a shoe....I cannot emphasize this enough! Every one's feet are shaped and sized differently, everyone runs and walks in crazy ways, and there are all different types of shoes for all types of feet (one incredibly flat foot like me, or hobbit feet like Robby.....there are shoes for everyone!) Also, did you know that most people get running shoes one 1/2 size bigger than their normal shoes? It's true.

I've ran in Asics and Brooks and have been very happy with both.

Running shoes aren't cheap. They range from about $80-120. The good thing is, every year brands come out with the basically the same shoe, in different colors, so last years models will then be much cheaper. After you've been fitted to find shoes that you like, ask them if they have any of last years model. Shop around and look for sales.
Also, try to look at it this way. Running is the cheapest exercise you can do--you can do it anywhere, it's free, and if all you need to do it is shoes, then investing in a good pair shouldn't be too hard.

I believe shoes to be your greatest investment when it comes to running, but some good running clothes can make a huge difference in how comfortable you are. Now if you're only running a few miles here and there--it shouldn't matter too much what you are wearing. But the longer you are out running, and the more those clothes start to rub on your skin, you'll wish you had something more fit for running. (example, I ran my first big race in a cotton tank top and I felt the effects of that for a week. cotton socks = blisters. everywhere. ouch.)

Just like shoes, new running clothing is made in different colors throughout the year. The basic blacks and whites are hard to find on sale, but if you don't mind running in ugly yellow shorts (me), then you can find a really nice pair of Under Armour shorts for cheap. I never buy clothing at the running stores (sorry guys), while they have an awesome selection, even their clearance prices are steep. I can usually find good deals at sporting good stores like Sports Authority ( I found some Nike tops I LOVE).  Places like Ross and TJ Maxx can be good places to find running clothing too. And you really only need a couple tops, a couple bottoms, and a couple pair of socks--you'll be surprised how fast you can build up a decent rotation of comfortable running clothing. Try it on in the store and do some jumping around in the fitting room (please tell me I'm not the only one who does this?), to make sure there aren't any places that rub. 

I had a question about supportive sports bras.....haha sorry girls, I am the wrong person to talk to about what?

Running in the Cold.
It's hard....but then it's not. 

It's hard to get going, to get up and out the door. I don't run very much outside in the winter--only a few times a month. I don't mind the snow, but I won't run in cold rain (warm rain on the other hand is awesome), and I REFUSE to run on a cold windy's miserable. 
And with little daylight it's hard to get out. 

But.....when I do, I come prepared. Even though I am not a fan of running in pants, I have a pair of running tights that I wear if it's absolutely freezing. They are actually Champion brand from Target that I got a few years ago and they are soooooo comfortable and keep me warm. I usually wear a long sleeved, breathable, water-wicking shirt, or a short sleeved running shirt with a light running jacket over the top. My jacket has sleeves that fold over my hands (also Champion from Target), and I LOVE it. There are some really nice running gloves that don't get sweaty and soggy, but my jacket works just fine. If I do wear shorts, I rub baby oil on my legs which helps with the cold--it sounds weird but totally works. I wear an ear band and I'm good! After about a mile I'm warmed up and don't mind the cold at all.

I have my music on my trusty dusty little blue ipod shuffle. I've had it for 4 years now and I LOVE it. It's tiny, holds lots of music, and clips right on to my shirt.

I think I am one of very few runners who doesn't have Black Eyed Peas, Rihanna, or crazy beated dance music and such on their ipod. So you may or may not be interested in what I listen to, but here are some favorite upbeat artists on my running list right now:
-Vampire Weekend
-Neon Trees
-Jimmy Eat World
-Something Corporate
-Boys Like Girls
-Jack's Mannequin
-Fenix TX
-a few Glee songs, yep
-Brand New
-My Chemical Romance
-Foo Fighters
-The Format
-Taking Back Sunday
-The Ataris

This is the part you might want to skip over if you are interested in a training schedule. I am terrible at training schedules, and remember my disclaimer? I make stuff up.

I guess you could say I loosely follow a schedule if I am training for something. One I make up myself, as I go, so it will fit into our family/traveling schedule. I run 2-3 times a week, with 1-2 short runs (3-5 miles) and a long run (8-14miles) on Friday or Saturday. I didn't run any races last year besides a few Ragnars, so I didn't have a lot of pressure of exact distances I should be running (another reason I LOVE Ragnar races:) 

If you are just starting out running, or are very new, I do think it would be easier, and great motivation to find some kind of schedule. Just don't get burned out (seriously I think schedules that have you running 4+ times a week are crazy), and if you have to miss a run--don't worry! 
Running should relieve stress, not create it. 
Also make sure you have some kind of cross training and/or yoga on your training schedule.

Runners World has LOTS of training tools (here), and in last weeks post Millie commented that THIS was an awesome couch-to-5k program (I have heard really good things about these!)

Thoughts on marathoning. Pace. Pain. And stuff. 
I was really surprised that I had a few different people ask what my marathon time was....hahahaha, now I'm embarrassed. My marathon time is zero, because I've never ran one. Nope. And I don't know if I want to. You see, I thought I wanted to, and I aaallllmost signed up for one last year, but then I didn't. I thought that's what you're supposed to do if you want to be a "real" "runner". But right now I throughly enjoy running, and I know that if I had to stick to a training schedule (yeah I guess it's a good idea to train for a marathon), I think I'd get burned out. Now this is me personally. I have had some very very close friends who have trained and ran marathons, and loved (or hated) every second, and for a few brief seconds I wish I was there with them. But right now I am happy with finding other kinds of races to run, whether that makes me a "real" "runner" or not.

I have run a handful of 1/2 marathons, with my best time at 1:35. I think a half is a great race, and a really fun distance to run. I am very competitive with myself, and I found that I enjoy myself so much more if I'm not worried about time--so this summer I'm looking in to some different kinds of races and trail runs--just to mix it up and try something pressure.

As far as pace goes....hmmm. I just get out there and run at a pace that feels good. I know people who ran in highschool and college know how to count turnover to figure out where they are at, and that is just more than I want to do (so maybe I am a lazy runner?) If you want to improve your speed, you need to do at least one speed workout a week
Here's a little introduction to fartleks (teehee:) for you.

Another way I've found to get faster is to take your dog (if your dog is anything like my dog). She is crazy, therefore she loves to sprint the first mile and a half or so. I hang on for dear life and let her go. It's terrible....but quite the workout I assure you.

Here's the thing about getting faster. It hurts. It's hard. And it doesn't get easier. It turns a fun run, into a run you might kind of wonder why you are doing. It's not easy to run fast, so you just have to decide if it's something you want to do (maybe only sometimes? maybe not at all?) 
If you really want to get better, you really have to push. Sometimes a little pain isn't all that bad....right?

What to eat?
This one varies from person to's all about trying different things to see what works for YOU. 
I have found that I can't eat alot of protein the night before a big run. If I'm doing more than 8 I'll usually have a dinner of whole grain pasta and veggies, or a veggie sandwich. Drink LOTS of water the day before your big run. For pre-run meals/snacks I like
-banana and pb
-small piece of pb toast
-1/2 an odwalla bar

If I'm running more than 10 miles I'll use a Gu gel. (I think vanilla and orange are the easiest to get down. I freeze mine so by the time I need to use it they're not boiling hot)  I still don't know if these actually help me DURING the run, but I see a huge difference in recovery when I use one. I also drink lots of Gatorade and water after a long hot run.

I have a small Camelback (the kind that straps on your waist) that I take for long runs....and I don't really love it. I would love to hear what you use for water?

Side aches. 
The worst. Thing. EVER. right?? right. They are terrible. But if you pay attention to what you eat and drink before you run, you can lessen your chances of getting them. 

I found the biggest cause of side aches for me is artificial sweetener. 
Luckily, in the past year I have eliminated all artificial sweeteners from my diet, so I run mostly side ache free. I figured it out when I was buying G2--the "low calorie" Gatorade. Every time I would drink it (even the day before I ran) I would get a side ache. 

Drinking or eating too much before (or drinking too much during) can also be a cause of side aches.

If you do happen to get one, here's what works for me. You may have to slow your pace a bit, but get your breathing into a nice rhythm, and synchronize your exhales with your steps (right side ache = exhale when your right foot hits the ground). Keep breathing like this and it should go away soon. 

When to run/Where do the babies go?
In the summer I run early morning (like when the homeless people are still sleeping on the sidewalks, early). This is to avoid heat, so I don't eat up my family's day with running, and so Robby can be home with the kids before work. If it's a week day and Robby has to be to work I'll start around 5:30am--as soon as the sun is up. I also love to run when he gets home from work--it stays light here so long (DON'T RUN IN THE DARK GIRLS!!), that I can usually get a good run in after he's home if I want to. 

Sign up for a race. Why not? What will happen? I met a 60+ year old lady last summer who had run 80+ marathons. If she can do that, you can do one race. Crossing the finish line is the BEST feeling!
Confession: I hate 5ks. Hate them. haha I've ran ONE. Remember the 3 mile mark I told you about? Your body finally stars to warm up, and the race is done. If you are new to running and sign up for a 5k (awesome), but you don't love it, don't give really is a hard distance. If you think you are brave enough to go for the 10k, I think it's a much better distance.
Bring a cheering section. It is so fun to come around a corner of a race and see your family there cheering you on. Your kids will love it, and think you are the coolest mom ever, really.
Don't worry. Seriously, the best thing about running is that you can just go do it. Just like that. Anywhere, Anytime. 
So disregard this post, and just get out and run!

Feel free to add your two cents (or ten dollars!) It's fun to learn from each other.
I'll be posting everyone's awesome tips and tricks on my fb page (here)


Amy said...

Thanks for that! Great post. I have just taken up running and while I LOVE it, I have been having some problems with shin splints. Have you ever suffered from them? Do you have any advice?

Narrowboat Lucky Duck

Liz said...

Ok. That's it. I am going to become a runner if it is the last thing I do. Thanks for the inspiration Sheena! I love these posts. I have to say that I look forward to them every week. Please don't stop the healthy living love! :)


Moments and Impressions said...

great tips! I am in the middle of the couch to 5K... again. I ran 5K's before baby... and just haven't ran much since she was born. I never really loved the 5K so thanks for the tip... .maybe I need to run further!

banananutmeg said...

On running in the dark.
I'm in love. We found a 2 1/2 mile sidewalk that is wide enough for 2-3 people and well lit (for a sidewalk) and a 200 ft climb. Perfect? Yes! 4-6 of us now meet every week after our kiddies are in bed and do our 8 mile run. Some girls leave after the first few miles, so we just run back toward their car and "drop them off". It works great, and it's an odd feeling to run in a pack. We wear headlamps on our heads, and flashing lights on our backs. Kasey even has a reflective vest.
We all carry pepper spray.
All of us. And no one is EVER alone. Groups of 3 minimum.

Also...running in the winter=Love. I don't know about you, but i LOVE not being super schwetty :). I can still down 16 oz of water during a run. I love my water belt, and even take it on 3 milers, because I'm just used to the convenience of having it.
We've run as cold as 8* and that was freaking cold. but awesome.
It's more gear to wear (hat, tights, pants, underarmour long sleeved shirt, jacket, sometimes a 2nd shirt, gloves, socks, etc.
But I'll take it (icicles on my eyelashes and all) over that dang treadmil any day of the week.
Except sundays, cuz that's my "day of rest."

Anonymous said...

I've been enjoying your running posts. I ran in high school and on and off since then. I've loved it. I had a baby in March and homeschool my 7yr old with Autism. I haven't had the time (or energy) to run lately (ha! and there is still like 3 feet of snow on the ground), but I WANT to. I'm wanting to start again. :)

Hannah Mayo said...

Awesome post. I just started the C25K program a few days ago and am so excited about it.
As far as bras go... I am one of the ones who needs the support ;)
A good supportive bra is really worth the investment, and has an amazing selection for ladies of every size. (I love their clothing too!)

Laura said...

Thanks for the post Sheena :) Loved reading it. I just wondered too about the yoga comment; will doing a yoga class say, once a week, help stop leg muscles bulking up too much? And would you need to do yoga more than once a week? I used to love running but find my thighs tend to get chunkier...which (sorry, so vain) makes me want to not run!

Holly-girl said...

Great running posts, Sheena! I think the most important thing (and you hit the nail on the head) is that this can be for ANYONE, ANYTIME. Hardcore runners would have you believe that there are "real" runners and then the rest of us, but the fact is it is all about getting outside & enjoying the experience of propelling yourself forward. I have been a runner my whole life and a year ago, I read "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall ... let's just say it completely changed my approach to running. I now see it like you do: FUN, challenging and, at times, exhilarating. It always reinforces my gratitude for a healthy body that can go, go, go. Sure appreciate your healthy approach to encouraging people to do just that! :-)

A Beautiful Life said...

such great tips!! i keep thinking i need to run everyday, so this puts a little pressure off.haha. and once i start really getting into it, it's nice to know what is the best to eat before long runs. AND i always thought i wouldn't be a good runner cuz of the 3mi thing, i've never gotten past that mileage, so i need to push myself and hopefully i'll love it more!!
aaaaaand i guess i better practice my kegels. ;D

Tiffani said...

Thanks for sharing! I am doing my first Ragnar in April and am not sure how I will love running without sleep but for my team, they have all done them and keep going so it's can't be that bad, right?!

I will definitely freeze goo from now on because it's pretty gross warm. I too use a water belt...if I have to. Something I love that you didn't mention was a Garmin GPS watch. It keep track of my distance, pace and heart rate--I LOVE MY GARMIN!

Although waking up early gets old after awhile, I strongly recommend getting up and going early. I do this mainly so my exercising doesn't interfere with the family. Plus when you're done you can can ready for the day.

I don't like running in the dark but do because the sun's not up at 6 yet. Because I do go when it's dark my rule is that I have to be on a main, well lite road--usually Sun City where there are some good hills and lots of street lights. If you are weary, they sell finger spray pepper spray...just in case!

Happy Running!

Rose @ Eat, Drink, and Be Meiri said...

I understand why you hate 5ks, but I love them. Mostly because they're the most accessible to people who aren't natural runners. It's amazing to see all these people out, with so many different levels of ability, striving for one unified goal: finish.

dave, catie, and baby b. said...


thanks to you, i ran for the first time in.....5 years??? last week...
it was hard but i really really liked were right.

i'm sort of in disbelief that someone actually sent you a nasty email about this....whaaa? silly. some people have too much time....obviously running isn't the only exercise on the planet.

thank you thank you for all your helpful tips. here's to more running...and more trips to the gym...and moving in general. :)

Unknown said...

Sheena, i love these posts, please keep em coming!

(i have a little too much to add but here it goes)
shoes, i bought mine at dicks sporting goods and you can buy insurance on them! you just pay 10% for the insurance and get brand new shoes within a year. i dont know about you but i go through my shoes fast. its a really great deal. when i trained for my half i got new shoes and bought them a half size bigger, this helped me SO much, I agree go talk to professionals then scout out the cheapest store.

gear, my favorite thing to use is this stick stuff you put behind your arms so they dont get chapped, it saved my poor arms on those long runs.

music, you got it, j.e.w., coldplay, boys like girls, the format and tbs seriously loove them and on my running play list. somehow some of those songs just pump me up. but i like the black eyed peas too :)

i dont know if i could ever run a marathon, props to my friends and everyone who has done them!! maybe when i am done having kids.

warning about a trail run. my half marathon was an unexpected trail run, thats what we get for signing up for a run in cali we knew nothing about. it was the hardest thing i ever did, i wouldnt time yourself on it unless you knew the course. walk the course ahead of time if you have a chance, this would have helped me!

eating, dont eat benihanas the night before, i warned you!

love these posts, keep them coming!!

Megan said...

I love love love your running posts! Your advice is great. I run cross country and track for the University of Iowa, so I run about 60 miles a week. I'm injured right now, so I've been doing a lot of pool running. So those of you who are injury prone (or already injured :/) should try pool running!

Also, I very much agree with you about shoes. We're sponsored by Nike but I won't train in anything but Brooks. Finding the right shoe can prevent so many pitfalls in your training!

Happy running!

Natalie said...

Sucking water through a straw (camelback) while running is just NOT possible for me! I can't suck and breath at the same time!! I like my water belts. I can just squirt some water into my mouth and carry on. Nathan is the best I've found. I run with water ALWAYS!

Frozen GU! You are a genius, I will try this on Saturday for my long run!

My faves song-wise lately are The Downtown Fiction - I just wanna run and Florence and The Machine - The dog days are over. They seriously save my bacon during the tough parts of my runs!

Run on!

Unknown said...

no tips from me but a request to keep writing about running!! I love it!!

Cassie said...

I somehow came across this blog and thought I would put in my two cents about the sports bras. I have tried SO many and my favorite is Moving Comfort fiona or athena. The straps are extra adjustable which means I can really hike my breasts up and suction them in. I usually have trouble with strap length once I get a big enough cup size. Moving Comfort has it down to a science. For gals with REALLY large breasts, my cousin recommends "The Last Resort" bra.

Jessica said...

I am just now turning 19 and I LOVE your blog! I have already accumulated my "freshman 12" and was clueless as how to get it off! But you have inspired me to lead a healthier lifestyle- including running! Thank you so much for all of you encouraging words, great recipes, and beautiful photographs :)

Your Reader,

Kenny said...

Running is one of those things that I hate, but that I am determined to learn to love (once I am no longer pregnant, that is). However, I have one big problem. Itchy leg syndrome. My legs start to itch horrifically when I run. Badly. So badly it feels like they're burning. I've never been able to find an explanation or a solution. Anyone???

{lizzythebotanist} said...

@ kenny- the itchy legs are due to blood traveling to your body where it's not used to it. in short: you are out of shape. it will go away as you get into shape. promise! (and don't scratch!)

i think the best thing to do when getting into (or back into) running is to shoot for time OR distance. and not worry about pace until you feel like you have the power to change it (i.e. you are in shape and can run without dying). so decide either a.) i will run for X amount of time today or b.) i will run X number of miles today and complete that. slowly increase your goals to push yourself. then once you feel like you are in the running groove start doing sprints and other things to get your faster pace.

Anonymous said...

I'm always *thinking* about taking up running (mostly because it's low-cost, I can do it on my own time, and it's seemingly very effective) and I think your posts may have inspired me to start!

But not till I get new shoes.
(And until, then I better be kegeling it up too, because I'm with you there WholeFamDamily! It's what's kept me from actually running...I have a mild uterine prolapse and bladder prolapse. But my OBGYN gave me the go ahead to run--said I'm too young for such a restriction. Hope she's right, and it doesn't make it worse!)

I meant to post this question earlier: How fast should your music be? How can you really tell if it's going to be a good tempo to run to? I feel like that's a silly question, but it's what intimidates me when attempting to put together a playlist for any type of exercise. (And sidenote--LOVE the music picks in this post. All my faves.)

summer said...

i just finished this post (read EVERY word, because they were really good) and will now scroll back to the top to read it again. but first, some thoughts!

1. thank you, THANK YOU, sheena!! i love the way you talk to us. you're so real! :) and thank you a billion times for talking about eating/drinking beforehand and the dreaded side ache.. i will be using your breathing technique. yay.

2. i can't believe i forgot about this last week, but does anyone else LOVE running for keeping you "regular"? seriously, for me, there's nothing like a run to give you an awesome visit to the ladies room:) it's like magic!

3. i am shocked and sad that mean words were sent to you. how could they?!

4. hooray for the tiny blue ipod shuffle!! mine is scratched up and sweated over and i love it.

5. why isn't it summertime right now?!

summer said...

ps. thank you for making it a long one and including links!!

cup named grace said...

great job! love it...and running too!

ElizabethMJaocb said...

no Black Eyed peas or Rihanna on my ipod :) I like your running list.

Unknown said...

I'm definately not a natural runner but a fortnight ago I started running again (2nd time might work out better?)
I have never slept very well but always find that I get a better night's sleep on run days.

Kasey said...

I'm learning that running a race (for me) is more about the social aspect and finishing than it is about being fast. I LOVE being around other people who also LOVE to run. I still haven't wanted speed enough to actually do speed training, so I guess I'm just running for FUN!

Desserts At Large said...

Ok, I just want to say that I'm not brave enough to do the running thing, but I definitely admire you for doing it! Also, I think that's just about a perfect playlist of artists for anything, I've never really found anyone (aside from my friends) who knows half of those bands! ROCK ON! lol

Kenny said...

Hmmm...not so sure about the response to itchy legs. I used to get them (although definitely not as bad) when I was playing soccer 3 hours a day, and then later when I was spending serious time at the gym. I definitely admit I'm out of shape now after being mama to 2 babies and about to push out a third, but I wasn't always. I'm determined to give it a shot, though!

Jennie said...

discovered your blog after you were on studio 5 - - i love it!

i'm a "just for fun" runner, too. 1/2's are good enough for me and I don't love the time it takes me away from my little kids!

I love your tip about freezing Gu. it's so terrible when it's hot!