Wednesday, June 26, 2013

New Books

I currently work in a library, which means I have access to a ton of awesome books. When we get new stuff in, I'm the first person to see it. Which can be good or bad. Good: I get to sift through and read all the good stuff before someone else gets their fingers on it. Bad: I could literally get nothing done all day because I'm too busy checking out all the goods.

Today was an especially good haul for me. 

I am so excited about this book! I didn't spend too much time looking at it, but I did spend way too much time on this one: 
Get it here
In other news, I'm in the process of doing physical therapy for my shoulder. I've never done physical therapy and, I can't lie, I thought it would be a waste of time. I mean... time heals all things, right? And then I realized it had been 4 weeks since I injured my deltoid and yet I was still having a hard time putting on my deodorant. That can be a BIG problem during the summer, especially in Oklahoma where you can fry an egg on the sidewalk. 

So I went along with my doctor and have been doing the PT stuff for about a week, and I think it's helping. Today they put an Ionto Patch (or something like that?) on it. Idk, supposed to help. She explained it to me but... well I forgot everything, okay?
Looks cool, right?
I still can't throw a softball, but I'm able to run just fine. The clock is ticking... only 24ish more weeks until the BIG RACE!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Half Marathon Plan for Beginners

It's time to start training again! My sister convinced to start training for my half sooner this year than I did last year. I'll have to start incorporating some weights into my workouts once I get the all-clear from the doctor for my shoulder.

This is the exact schedule I used last year and, considering I ran all 13.1 miles and didn't die (not even once), then it must be a winner! It was adapted from Runner's World.

Some friendly advice: 
  • Eat more, but not way more. It's really really easy to eat toooooo much when you're training for longer distances. It's easy to think you can just eat whatever you want since you're burning off so many calories, but be smart! I use MyFitnessPal to help me keep track of calories so that I don't go overboard. 
  • Drink plenty of water. Try to skip the sugary drinks (ohhhhhh the Dr Pepper fairies are so mean to me...)
  • If you're hurting, take the day off. It's better to miss one or two days of running in order to let your body heal rather than missing several weeks worth because you end up with an injury. 
  • Don't try and do more that what's on the schedule. The first couple weeks are hard to get through, but, once your body starts getting stronger, you might think 4 miles isn't enough. Trust me, it's enough! Increasing mileage too fast can set you up for injury.
  • Don't let your half marathon be the FIRST race you've ever done! Before you even start training for a half, sign up for a couple of 5ks. You'll run a whole lot faster during a race than you do on your own without meaning to. Run a few races and get a feel for what your "race pace" feels like. 
  • Work yourself up to doing 15-20 miles a week. Again, this will help prevent injury. This is about how many miles a week you'll start out doing with this program, so get your body ready for that kind of mileage. 
  • When you think you're ready to start training, do a 5 mile test run and see how it feels. **You should be able to do at least 5 miles without much distress before starting this program (according to Runner's World).**

AI: Aerobic Intervals - "You push the pace. But just a little." Basically this means just increasing your speed by enough to make you feel like you're working a little harder, but it's NOT  a sprint! You'll kill yourself if you try to run this part too fast, and nobody wants that.

GP: Gentle Pickups - "At the end of your run, walk for several minutes, then slowly increase your leg turnover on a flat stretch for 100 meters (the straightaway on a track) up to the point where you start to breath hard. Hold it there for 10 to 20 meters, then gradually slow down." I consider this a sprint, but remember that you don't want to do too much too fast because that leads to injury. Walk to full recovery before you start each one. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

7 Running Tips for Beginners

Yesterday's 5 mile run prompted this post... I was running and running and got to thinking about all the mistakes I've made and things I've learned over the past few years as a runner. They seem like common sense now, but I was apparently not so smrt (see what I did there?) back in my beginner days.

So here is some advice from a runner who's made every mistake in the book.

1. Never run an unfamiliar course without driving it first. I'm so bad about doing this. I have GPS on my phone, so why not run an unfamiliar road? I like a little adventure, seeing new sights, etc. so what's the big deal? A) Hills. It's really really good to know how hilly the course is before you try it out. Yeah, you'll survive even if you're unaware, but it's just better to have the heads up. Trust me. B) DOGS. In my neighborhood there are dogs everywhere! Most of them are chained up or in a pen, but you can't rely on this! Drive your course before you run it and look for dogs or any signs of them. And, to be extra safe, run with some pepper spray (just in case!).

2. Run on the left side of the road. I am so grateful that someone once upon a time gave me this advice! It seemed dumb at the time. Why would I run on the left side of the road when you're supposed to drive on the right side? Is that even legal!? Where I run there are no sidewalks and no shoulders, only a road and a ditch. If you're running on the left side of the road you're able to see the cars coming towards you. If you're on the right side... you're blind to the traffic coming up directly behind you. People don't always pay attention. They're texting, talking on the phone, looking at their Garmin, or (if they're anything like me) they're distracted by the two year old throwing cheerios at them from the backseat. If you can see those drivers coming, you can jump into a ditch if you need. If you don't see them, and they don't see you... Ouch.

3. Always warm-up before you run. Again, I'm so bad about this. I'd rather just take off and get it all over with,  but that's bad. That's the kind of thing that leads to injury. A good warm up will get your blood flowing and your heart pumping, and that leads to better performance overall. A good warm-up depends on how far you're running or even how much you'll be pushing yourself. For me, I usually go anywhere from 2-6 miles and I don't push myself much, so a decent warm-up is usually an easy 5-10 minute jog and some minor stretching. Read more about warm-ups here.

4. Drink plenty of water. You know it, I know it, everybody knows it: water is GOOD for you. Personally, I'd rather fill my body with coffee and Dr Pepper, but those things kinda suck for a runner. I can always tell on days that I haven't had enough water: my muscles are weak and I get tired very early in my run. Muscle fatigue, my friends, is no bueno. You should be drinking water consistently all day long. If you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated. More on the benefits of drinking agua here.

5. Never run in your [pretty] new running shoes without breaking them in first. Have I ever done this? You guessed it: Yes I have. I bought these gorgeous Under Armour shoes and was SO excited when they arrived in the mail. Aside from the mistake of buying running shoes without trying them on first, I decided to run in them that same day. The sad thing is I knew I wasn't supposed to do it. Six miles later I had a quarter sized blister ON MY ARCH. Not to mention the fact that they were the most uncomfortable pair I'd ever put on, much less ran in. When you buy new shoes it's important to wear them and let them conform to your feet. Sometimes they will inevitably cause blisters, but I've learned that, after I've worn them several times and gotten used to the way they fit, the blisters go away and never come back.

6. Always do some kind of cool down after you're finished. This is one thing I definitely can't skip. A warm-up help your body to go from a resting state to an active one, and a cool-down does just the opposite. It's not good to just stop all at once without giving your body time to go back into chill mode. When you've finished your run, try to jog or walk for a while, 5-10 minutes. Let your breathing become more even and your heart rate go back to normal. I can usually tell when my body is cooled down because the flow of sweat begins to subside! Now is also a good time to stretch. If I don't do these things, I get muscle cramps like nobody's business.

7. Practice breathing correctly. Did you know there's a wrong way to breath? Crazy! Most people breath with only the top half of their lungs. When you breath you shouldn't just see it (or feel it) in your chest--it should go all the way down into your stomach. This is actually hard work, I tell ya. I have to practice breathing on a regular basis so that I don't have to think about it as much during a run. Try it for a sec: Take a deep breath and expand your lungs all the way down into your belly button. Your stomach should expand. I've learned that breathing correctly not only fights fatigue, but it also helps with side stitches. I used to get them so bad that I would have to stop running altogether. But now that I breath correctly I can literally get rid of a side stitch as soon as I feel one coming on because it utilizes the diaphragm. More info on this here.

I'm no expert, and I would never pretend to know everything there is to know about running (although my husband would probably disagree with that statement), but these are just a few things I would recommend ANY runner to at least consider and even do some research on.

Happy Running!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

What's an "Altoid?"

Last Monday night, playing softball, I hurt my shoulder.

We were tied. We were already playing extra innings. I was on third base. I ran home, got in a rundown, and, before I even attempted sliding into home plate, I knew I was going to be out. But I slid anyway. It wasn't much of a "slide" actually. It was more like reaching my arm out as far as it would go and belly flopping on the plate. I banged by whole face in the dirt. I wish it had been cooler, or I'd at least been safe, but no, it was embarrassing and I was OUT. And of course, my shoulder was on fire. We played two more innings (I think?) and I couldn't move my arm. I bawled like a baby all the way home and went to Urgent Care the next day.

The deltoid muscle which can be injured - torn or strained
Long story short, I found out a week after the incident that I'd strained by deltoid muscle, NOT to be confused with an altoid muscle which is what I thought the doctor was calling it.

Altoids Peppermint Mints
"So how much longer until my altoid is back to normal?" I asked.

He kind of looked at me with this confused expression, one eyebrow cocked higher than the other, and said, "It's called a 'deltoid' muscle. You'll need to take several weeks off from softball, and no weight lifting on that arm, but after a few weeks you can start using it more. For now you need to just take it easy."

How embarrassing.

He did, however, say I could continue running. I am SO glad, especially since one of my sisters agreed to SIGN UP FOR THE SPARTAN BEAST WITH ME!!! We're both already mortified at the idea of it but it's too late, we have already signed our lives away. AND... coincidentally, I was supposed to go to my OWN graduation that day. Yep, this girl will miss it so she can be a Spartan. Run a 10-12 mile obstacle course instead of wearing a boring cap and gown?? Totally worth it.

Spartan Beast obstacle course trail race in Glen Rose, TX
Spartan Beast
Fortunately we have plenty of time to train. I plan on doing the Route 66 Half Marathon again in November, and then we'll do the Spartan Race in December.

And then... I WILL do a FULL marathon in April! I will be able to finally cross a few more things off my fitness bucket list at last!

For now I'm just doing short runs, 3 or so miles, a few days a week, and will have to start doing some crossfit type stuff soon. Oh, and I should probably stop eating cake and donuts and Dr Pepper all the time.

Stay tuned!