Friday, February 28, 2014

Three Things, Er, Friday

...because alliteration is not the boss of me.

Thing #1: Once A Runner, by John L. Parker, Jr.

This is one of those running books I've heard about here & there, but only really often enough for the title to be familiar. It was part of an Audible BOGOF promotion so I figured, "Eh, why not?" It was short (~8.5 hours), & at least then I'd know if it lived up to all the hype.

Well. 12 chapters in I was convinced it was about the stupidest book I'd ever read. The writing was cliche & forced, & the dialogue was unbelievable and frankly hard to follow (though I'm sure that's at least partly to do with trying to decode 1970s Florida college slang). I couldn't relate to the characters, and the jumpy, meandering style of storytelling made the main story line difficult to follow (or even detect) for the first half the book. Many of the scenes felt bafflingly irrelevant. If it wasn't so short I probably would have given it up there.

However, the second half had some redeeming qualities. Once he ditched most of the side characters (including the lone woman, who was, sadly, kind of whiny & cringe-inducing), the story felt more coherent and a narrative arc gradually became detectable. And although as a runner I have never been anywhere *near* the level of the protagonist (a collegiate 4:00 miler obsessed with running a sub-4:00), there were actually a lot of parts I was able to relate to on some level. (It also brought back all the most painful, most horrific parts of running track, which sort of sucked, but I guess that's kind of the point.) It's when Parker was actually writing about running and training and racing that it wasn't too bad, and there were definitely a few sections near the end where I found myself thinking, "OMG, it is/was *totally* just like that," so he gets some props for that. On the other hand, I doubt anyone who hasn't had the experience of running track at least semi-competitively will really "get" those parts.

So yeah. If you are or have been a super competitive male college track star, this book *might* speak to you. If you're a distance runner in the sense of, "Meh, I run marathons & half-marathons sometimes for fun/health/thrillz," you can probably just skip it without missing much.

Thing #2: This Bra.

I've gushed about my beloved Moving Comfort Alexis bra enough in previous posts that there's no need to rehash all that here. There is a reason that I own six of them in spite of the fact that they often cost $25-30 even on sale.

With all the double days lately, though, I've often found myself getting close to the end of the week with no Alexises (Alexi?) left for my weekend runs, so recently I spent some time hunting around the interwebz looking for new colors / patterns I didn't have already that were on some sort of discount & picked up a couple more.

My question is, is this pattern a bit too, er...boob-evocative for a sports bra? Because I'm trying to keep it classy up in here:

Be honest please. I can take it.

Thing #3: Injure Yourself Like A Pro.

Obviously this is something that has been on my mind for the last year. I mean, don't get me wrong; I've made HUGE progress in my ability to injure myself. In fact I'd say this has been a PR year for me in terms of catastrophic injuries! Ten solid weeks without a single step of running? You don't just roll out of bed & accomplish something like that. It takes time, commitment, and focus. Just a few years ago, I would never have dreamed I could injure myself as spectacularly as I have in the last eight months.

But, like any dedicated athlete, I am never satisfied with my current level of achievement. Each day I wake up, knowing I have it in me to suffer even more egregious injuries if I really work at it. But how???

Thankfully, I now have Lauren Fleshmen's secrets to injuring oneself like a pro.

Creepy graphic, or creepiest graphic? Somehow I feel like LF would
be the first to point out the lack of photorealism happening here.

In this extra-special behind-the-scenes look at how elites really train, Lauren shares all her 'top tips' for injuring oneself just like the pros do!

Seriously; check it out. It'll make you feel a little better about yourself. (Celebrities: They're just like us!!)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Some Birthday Miles & A Freaky Freaky Friday

Rollin', rollin' rollin'...
When you can't run, cross training isn't only useful from the perspective of keeping some semblance of cardiovascular fitness. It's also a mental thing. Of course I know that spin bike & elliptical miles aren't equivalent to running miles, but it's still gratifying to make a training schedule, stick to it, & tally the miles up anyway at the end of the week.

As I'm starting to run again, I'm gradually trading out minutes I've been spending on the bike & elliptical for treadmill time, which is AWESOME. On the other hand, it means my total "mileage" per week will gradually start to fall (since, shockingly, I can't run--and certainly not run/walk--as fast as I can bike or elliptical). Obviously this is one of those stupid things that I shouldn't care or been concerned with at all, but I have to be honest--I was kind of getting used to seeing that 6x.xx each week, and I'm still a looooong way from seeing it in relation to real, actual running miles.

Sunday was my 33rd birthday, and back at the beginning of the month, I'd hoped to be ready to run for 33 minutes or 3.3 miles without walk breaks for the occasion. And given how easy and pain-free all my interval runs have been lately, I'm sure I could have if I'd just said "Screw it, this is happening" and done it. But it would have been way, WAY more than I've done so far, & I didn't want to risk waking up limping again & facing another week another set-back. So, instead, I did 10 x .33 with ~1:00 walking breaks for a total of 3.33. Which is still WAY more running at a time than I've done since that fateful day in December. Strictly speaking I'm not sure my PT would have condoned jumping up by that much, but as a compromise I did go straight home after & spend the rest of the afternoon rolling that tough, nobbly little spot in my calf muscle like a mad woman.

I told my PT the foam roller didn't hurt much anymore.
He told me to get on the lacrosse ball. I hate the lacrosse
ball, but it effing works, & that is hard to argue with.

To be honest, if I'd known I was only a 400m away from a double digit week in terms of running, I probably just would have done it. Given how far I was already pushing it, though, it's probably for the best that I didn't.

* * *

Grand Total: 55.25 miles

    * 9.75 running
    * 14.6 easy (bike)
    * 4.9 speed (bike)
    * 10 tempo (bike)
    * 16 elliptical


Ski it up in Tahoe.


a.m. 4 elliptical / p.m. 1.9 run (6 x 2:00 easy with 1:30 walk breaks) + bike, 3 x (5:00 @ 5K effort / 2:00 easy), 4.6 cool down = 9.5 speed.

I was feeling a bit beat up from skiing Tuesday morning, so I kept my morning elliptical to a fairly easy half hour. By the afternoon my legs felt pretty good so I went ahead & did a little treadmill running with no problem. My left calf was still sore from the last time I rolled the hell out of it, but it definitely had that muscle soreness feel to it & not the deep, nauseating ache that I associate with the stress fracture pain. On the other hand I could tell they weren't 100% as soon as I started my first interval on the bike, so I only did 3 x 5:00 @ 5K effort instead of 4.


a.m. strength work / afternoon 7.5 elliptical / p.m. karate.


a.m. bike, 10 easy / p.m. 2.25 run (5 x 3:00 w/ 2:00 walk breaks) + 4.5 elliptical. Running!!!! Painlessly!!!! With good form!!!! The downside is that I had almost convinced myself that eh, the spin bike & elliptical aren't really THAT bad. And then I hopped on the elliptical after my 25 minutes on the treadmill.

Oh no. Compared to actual real running? There's just no comparison. At all. Elliptical, when the day finally comes, I will not be sorry to see you go.

FREAKY Friday:

2.3 run (5 x 3:00 w/ 2:00 walking breaks) + strength work + 10 bike @ marathon effort

Friday was weird. In spite of being zonked Thursday evening & hitting the sack at 9:00pm, I woke up at 3:00am, then 4:00am, then 4:30am, & never really slept well again after that. So when my alarm went off at 5:45, it was another of those "Oh heeeeeellllz no" moments. Pre-work strength work was just not going to happen. I re-set my alarm for 7:00 & went back to sleep.

When I woke up the second time, I spent a few minutes just laying there, thinking about the day & pretending for a few minutes that I wasn't going to do the strength work. Then I got up, packed my gym bag, & went to work.

What this meant (sigh) is that after work, I had to do it all. I mean obviously I didn't have to do it all because I don't have to do anything, but you find a way or you find excuses. So I broke the afternoon down into chunks & figured I would do one chunk at a time until I couldn't.

    Chunk #1: Run. The fun part, obviously. It was my first time running two days in a row since the stress fracture, and I was glad to find that I didn't feel sore or tired or have any trouble maintaining form. YAYZ!

    Chunk #2: Strength work. Unlike when I usually do strength work at 6:45 in the morning, I was sweaty and warmed up and my muscles were no longer 100% fresh, so I was prepared for everything to be a little bit tougher. One of the things I learned from Coach Nate at CrossFit SF, though, is that doing strength work occasionally immediately after a run is actually a good thing, because it shows you how functional your strength really is once your muscles are tired (which, let's be honest, is a lot more relevant at mile 20 of a marathon than what you can do with fresh ones). Weirdly, everything actually seemed easier than usual.

    Chunk #3: Bike. Normally I'd do a 15 minute warm-up before launching into the tempo stuff, but since I was already *quite* warm as it was, I jumped right into 10 miles at marathon effort. Which...again, was weirdly one of the easiest bike rides I think I've ever had, as well as the fastest (I'm pretty sure). I felt like I could have gone on at that pace forever.

So.....yeah. Freaky.

Saturday: Catch up on sleep / desperately force myself to REST, which is not something I've ever had trouble with before. Unlike every other running blogger on the internet (apparently?) I am the only person who seems to have NO TROUBLE WHATSOEVER tapering for a race. Sit on the couch and relax, you say? Ease up on the miles, you say? Eat some extra carbs, you say? WELL OKAY IF I MUST. But for some reason on Saturday both my brain and my body wanted nothing more than to run ALL TEH MILES. It was all I could do to keep repeating to myself, "You actually get stronger on rest days. You actually get stronger on rest days. You actually get stronger on rest days."

Sunday: 3.33 run (10 x .33 w/ ~1:00 walk breaks)

By Sunday I'd caught up on my sleep & gotten the two-a-day adrenaline out of my system & really didn't have much interest in doing anything much besides laying on the couch, drinking wine, & binge watching Alias. (Takes me right back to grad school!) The birthday run I've been so excited about for weeks suddenly held zero appeal to me. It was nice & sunny outside, though, so finally, at 4:30pm I dragged myself off the couch & put on shorts and a tank top, fired up the ol' Garmin, & headed out.

And WOW, had the sunshine on our back deck deceived me. It was considerably cooler out than it has been lately (by which I mean ~50F), & by the time I got out of the Mission I could see the fog rolling in from the coast. (Plus side: This is the first run I've done since December long enough to get me out of the Mission. In fact it's been so long that I missed my usual turn & had to double back.) I warmed up a little as I ran, though arm warmers still would've been nice.

Karl gets his revenge!

On tap for next week: HALF-MILE intervals, perchance???? Look out; things could get *crazy* up in here.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Lessons From The Gym

A stock photo is the only place anyone ever smiles on a cardio machine.
Greetings from Gym Land!

I'm not a native here, but lately it kind of feels like it. I'm getting used to the sweaty-human-cleaning-fluid aroma, and I've been racking up the cardio machine miles like nobody's business. Which reminds me of a brilliant idea I came up with on the spin bike the other day (because what else are you doing while you're on the spin bike?): cardio machines should totally give you rewards points for your miles. I feel certain I could have earned at least a decent set of steak knives by now.

It hasn't been all moaning & whining (though there has been a goodly amount). While I wouldn't have chosen to get my weekly mileage for the last two months by parking myself on the spin bike / elliptical once or twice a day, I can't deny that I have learned some important lessons from my time as a gym rat.

1. I am capable of running in the morning. For the most part, this is not something I have done just to get the miles in since there stopped being someone telling me I had to run in the morning. (Races don't count as the abject misery of morning running is overshadowed by excitement/adrenaline. Planned runs with friends are also a totally different thing.) Over the years I have had short-lived flirtations with morning runs, which have tended to peter out once I've done enough of them to remember why I don't do them.

But, it turns out that maybe I just don't like running outside in the morning, at least by myself. Outside there is cold and wind and darkness and other unpleasantness that, all else being equal, I'd rather just avoid. Sure, the treadmill has its own unique brand of suckage and one does have to adjust to that special parfum d'sweat et Windex, but for some reason I can bear that much more easily than I can the thought of running outside by myself before 6 am. (You can keep your pine-scented single track & fancy pants foothill sunrise. Judge me if you will. I can take it.)


2. I can handle doubles. At least mentally & emotionally, & let's be real, what you can handle mentally & emotionally is *at least* as relevant in terms of endurance training as what you can handle physically. Lately "doubles" for me have meant 45 minutes of elliptical before work & 45 minutes of spin bike after work or vice versa, which is obviously physically easier on the body than two running workouts because of the lack of impact, but finding that it's something I've been able to make time for & work out logistically & tolerate well mentally makes me optimistic about eventually working up to running doubles if/when I need/want to.

3. Bitches be chatty in the locker room. OMG. What is it about a bunch of women naked in close quarters that inspires them to interrogate strangers? TOO EARLY. I'm not here to make friends. Especially not naked ones. If you really want to know how my day is going, you must put pants on first. Corollary: Never start a casual conversation with a pantsless stranger. I think Emily Post said that.

Basically, yes.
4. Doing cardio you don't enjoy is a special kind of hell. Oh, those poor, poor souls who haven't yet found a physically demanding activity they love but dutifully slog through the minutes anyway for the sake of their health. Oh, my heart aches for you, because I have been that person lately. I've tolerated the elliptical & spin bike fairly well, but only because I know that it's temporary, & putting up with it now will make it much easier to eventually go back to doing what I love. Do you have any idea how many games I've made up for counting backward from 45 or 60 minutes? How many mental tricks I've developed for keeping my goddamn feet glued to the goddamn pedals when my brain is absolutely liquifying with boredom? How much my already exceptional math skills have improved from staring at the minutes & miles display & desperately counting significant progress any way I can? Minutes left, miles left, percentage done or left, fraction done or left, miles per hour, minutes per mile, you name it; I don't even have to try to consciously calculate them anymore. It's just automatic.

Cardio machine queens & kings, I feel for you. I beg you, try a sport. Any sport. Your life will be so much richer. Also, I'm pretty sure those LED numbers are sucking your soul away. (Unless that's just your thing? Which I guess is technically possible?)

5. Shorts are out. I think I mentioned this already. Ladies wear tights at the gym, apparently. I hope no one is offended by my leg hair because #thingsthatarenotchanging.

6. Routine is everything. Oh man. It's so true, all those things people say about making & breaking habits. You just have to do it, over and over and over, and eventually you just lose the power not to do it. One day last week when my alarm went off, I thought to myself, "Bed is warm. Maybe I'll just stay here." And no sooner had I had the thought than I suddenly found myself kind of repulsed by it. Not go fight the cardio demons? Of course I was going to go fight the cardio demons! It's just what I do now; I don't even think about it.

***IN REAL ACTUAL RUNNING NEWS***, I ran three-minute intervals yesterday for the first time -- 5 x 3:00 w/ 2:00 walk breaks for a total of 2.25 miles. It was super easy, felt great, and I was able to keep good form for the entire run. Ohhhh I could have stayed on that treadmill forever. Not really.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Rub Some Snow On It (also, any blog suggestions?)

In this week's News of the Lame, my stress fracture started hurting again Tuesday morning. Like, three-weeks-ago, kind-of-limping-again hurting. I was going to try to get a little treadmill time that day, but as soon as the pain started I obviously nixed that plan. I tried to stay off of it as much as possible, but the pain never entirely went away until Saturday. It had never hurt during or immediately after my little interval runs, and it hadn't hurt on Monday, so I was kind of at a loss as to the reason.

Fortunately, I had an appointment with my PT on Friday, & his opinion was that it was just muscle pain from my Sunday run, since bone pain would have been immediate, not two days later. His theory has always been that the stress fracture was caused by muscle issues to begin with, probably partly by tight muscles putting torsional forces on the bone and partly by those same tight muscles becoming so tight after a certain amount of exertion that they basically stop working, which means they don't absorb force, which means more force is redirected to the bone.

So, I am likely not aggravating the healing bone by running, but I probably am re-aggravating the underlying cause. In theory the way to stop the cycle is just to grind the scar tissue out of that part of my calf muscle and continue stretching it as often as possible. Which kind of sucks, because ten minutes with the lacrosse ball & my leg is sore for two days. I am allowed to run on it even if it's a little sore, though he did caution me to pay close attention to what kind of pain it is and how bad is, and to err on the cautious side of running less often if I'm not sure.

He also reminded me that there are lot of other fun ways to be active & sporty in the world, so I took his advice & went up to Tahoe (ie, where they have winter) with Don over the long weekend to get some skiing in, which was AWESOME considering that I haven't been on skis since our trip to Breckenridge last March.

Kirkwood ski area in South Lake Tahoe. Kirkwood is awesome because in spite of being a fantastic mountain for just about all levels, it never gets crowded because it's so far away from all the bigger more touristy resorts. On Sunday, I never waited more than a minute in a lift line, & on Monday I don't think we ever waited more than maybe three minutes (which the staff were calling "really crowded").

Top of Buckboard run at the end of the day

Back side of Kirkwood at sunrise

Don at the top of Buckboard

Up on the summit somewhere

It's pretty amazing what hurling your body down a few black diamonds will do for your morale.

A brief cry for help: Lately, my favorite blogs keep doing one of the following:

  • Dropping off the face of the earth
  • Basically dropping off the face of the earth (ie, every post begins with some sort of apology for not blogging in six months)
  • Turning into a litany of sponsored posts / giveaways (FUN FACT: the more sponsored / ambassador'd / brand name dropping / giveaway posts a blogger does, the more likely I am to delete them from my feed. I know people have their reasons for doing that stuff & there are plenty of people who enjoy reading about it; I'm just not one of them. It makes me feel like I am spending my precious precious free time reading ads, which is lame.)

Recently I went through my NetVibes & deleted every blog that hadn't had a new post with actual content in like 6 months (with a couple of exceptions), and BOY is it slim pickins.

So my question is, what are you reading these days that is interesting, funny, informative, well-written, updates more than once month, easy on the giveaway/sponsored stuff, and doesn't have a scary diet vibe about it? Five out of seven & I'll give it a shot! (In the right margin I have a list of the blogs I usually read semi-regularly for your perusal.)

(This is also the part where it is completely appropriate to be like, "Hey, I have a blog and it is AWESOME!" and I will probably be like "NEAT, I will check it out!")

* * *

Grand Total: 65.85 miles

    * 31.2 easy (bike)
    * 8 speed (bike)
    * 11.25 tempo (bike)
    * 14.5 elliptical


Afternoon bike, 13.8 easy / evening karate.


Bike - 3.4 warm up, 4 x (5:00 @ 5K effort / 2:00 easy), 2.4 cool down = 14.4 speed.

Tuesday was not the greatest day for a few reasons. First, that was when my leg starting hurting again. Second, I was up too late on Monday night, so when my alarm went off at 5:45 the next morning, my reaction was a swift and decisive "Oh heeeellllll no." I don't feel bad about trading 45 minutes on the elliptical for an extra hour of sleep. (Though that also meant I got to drive to work in commuter traffic, which is utter balls. That, I did kind of regret.)


a.m. strength work / afternoon 7.5 elliptical / p.m. karate.

THE GOOD: Fastest forty-five minutes of easy elliptical ever? I will take it! Sick new bo kata to start learning at karate? Hell yes!

THE BAD: Leg pain. Thankfully it didn't hurt on the elliptical, but pretty much every normal walking step I took on Wednesday still had some amount of pain right in the outside upper left calf. It felt more like muscle pain than bone, but since I couldn't tell for sure, I didn't risk the treadmill.

Happily, we spent most of karate destroying pads with boxing gloves, which pretty much involves just standing in one spot and not moving around a lot. Working on bo kata did involve some walking / stepping, but when you're just first learning the sequence, it's pretty chill, and that was only about twenty minutes anyway.


a.m. bike, 10 easy / p.m. 7 elliptical

Ugh. Straight out of bed, the leg was still not happy. Pain after many hours of rest usually indicates soft tissue and not bone, but then again when the stress fracture was at its worst around Christmas, it just hurt insanely bad at all times, so I skipped the treadmill again, just to be safe.


Bike - 2.5 warm up, 32:00 @ marathon effort, 16:00 @ LT effort = 14.25 tempo = 14.25

PT in the morning, so no strength work. The bike could have been a longer workout, but I had friends to make Valentine's Day cocktails for, & you know where my priorities lie.

Cinnamon-infused bourbon, ginger liqueur, pomegranate juice / molasses, grenadine, blood oranges, Aphrodite bitters, & Thai chili bitters -- all clutch Valentine's Day cocktail ingredients.

Homemade grenadine = de rigeur.

Gin, Amaro Montenegro, Aperol, lemon juice,
grenadine, & egg white, with cinnamon for garnish.

Saturday: Rest / drive to Tahoe.

Sunday: Ski like a mad woman. (Okay, maybe like a mildly disturbed woman. Still. Skiing. Which has REALLY been needing to happen this year.)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How To Date (and not date) A Runner

Be still my beating heart, it's a Valentine's Day round up! FIRST, can we all just agree that this sounds like the worst idea ever?

Also, if matchey-matchey couples running outfits are now a
thing...maybe you could do me the courtesy of just not telling me about it.

It's one thing to run with your established significant other, or find yourself crushing on someone who just happens to already be a member of your regular running group. But that doesn't seem to be what this article is talking about. It seems to be referring to that early-on, you're-kinda-cute-and-nice-but-that's-about-all-I-know-about-you period, wherein you intentionally make plans with this person to go on a run together as a date. Why, oh why, would you put the object of your affection through such an ordeal??

Some people will be all, "But I'm a RUNNER, this is who I AM! S/he should know the ugly TRUTH about me right from the START!" To which I say, heeeellllllllllz no. No one wants to see all your warts up-front. They don't. I love to run, and I also love to run with friends. But the truth is, it's hard for me to put a date in the 'win' column if I'm kind of grossed out by the thought of touching you when it's over. See-ya-later-smooch? Not happening if you smell like a laundry hamper & taste like a salt lick. Is that really the impression you want us to leave one another with?

Frankly, I feel like Tip #5 says it all:

    "DON'T spit or blow snot--even if that's customary
    among your training buddies. You should control
    whatever bodily functions you can."

If there is a number one rule-of-thumb for ruling out first/early date activities, concern regarding the control of bodily functions has to rank pretty high up on the list.

If we are just getting to know each other, I would prefer that you looked together and not winded and smelled nice and were able to speak easily in complete sentences and not kind of half preoccupied by your bodily functions. (And, honestly, I want those things for myself as well. If that makes me a diva, then bring me my tiara, darling.) Let's keep the mystery alive and save running together til the three-month mark, at least.

SECOND, as long as we're on running and dating--

I don't want to name any names but there is this one active lifestyle website whose mailing list I got on because they occasionally send out sweet coupons or race discounts. Realistically, though, I get about two of those kind a year, and twice a week or so I am treated to newsletter-type-emails telling me all about local endurance events I have no interest in, the most obvious/useless training tips known to man, and whimsical (I guess?) items that run the gambit from "utterly vacuous" to "someone got paid for this??" in terms of quality.

Recently said website published such a whimsical post informing us all about "How To Date A Runner." I thought maybe it was just a humor piece, but once I clicked through (COME ON I HAD TO), I realized that no, someone is *actually* trying to give us serious (or at least semi-serious) advice.

BEHOLD: How To Date A Runner (if you absolutely have to) (because seriously) (who would volunteer for that)

(Warning - I am about to give you all unsolicited relationship advice. I am qualified to do this because:

  • I am a runner who has only ever been dated by non-runners.
  • I have never had an argument with a partner over running.
  • I have never had angstful passive-agressive unspoken non-arguments with a partner over running.
  • I have never had a relationship end over running.
  • This is the internet, why are we talking about qualifications.

What I'm saying is, I pretty much rock at this. You are welcome.)

Tip #1:

Advice: I am sorry you are dating someone who has never been in an adult relationship and has therefor not yet learned about things like "boundaries" and "priorities" and "not being a one-trick bore all the time." Goals / discipline / work ethic / etc. is one thing, but at some point you really just have to be able to say "Seriously, can we have like ONE CONVERSATION A DAY that is not about running??" If s/he has trouble with that, maybe tell your honey to get a blog & vomit their obsession onto the internet where only willing volunteers have to hear about it? (I am convinced that this blog has played no small part in why I still have a functional relationship as well as many happy friendships with non-runners.)

Or, hey, if you only need to see your S.O. a few hours a week and can totally deal with spending most of the time you spend together nodding and smiling while s/he drones on blissfully un-self-aware, again, more power to you.

Tip #2:

Advice: If you need reassurance from the internet that "No, really, dude, she is TOTALLY NOT AVOIDING YOU" and earth-shattering advice like "If x thing about partner is bothering you then you should probably talk to partner about x," you may have some other issues you need to work out. As for your self-centered, neglectful partner, see above.

Tip #3:

Advice: I like that this one ends with a period AND a question mark. It's kind of like the writer was like, "You should definitely maybe do that. I guess? Maybe.?" Since the author seems uncertain, here's an actual tip. If partner is like, "Let's totally do X!! X would be the coolest!!" and you are like, "X sounds like an utterly miserable waste of time to me!!" then you have some choices.

Choice 1: "X is not really my plate of tamales but you should totally go have an AMAZING time without me & we will do something AWESOME together when you get back!"

Choice 2: "I am not totally stoked about X, but since it's so important to you, I can hang." (If you go this route, you have to *actually* be able to hang, not be miserable and passive aggressive but keep saying it's fine. Basically you're accepting that this trip is about your S.O. & not you, so anything fun or cool you get to do is a bonus--no expectations.)

Choice 3: "I am not too sure about doing X because [reasons], can we discuss / maybe do [compromise thing] instead this time?"

This is called not having a dysfunctional, passive-aggressive relationship.

Also, what's with the weird assumption that the S.O. has to accompany his/her runner love to every race-related event? If it were me, I'd happily go along, but I definitely would not let myself be dragged along to the expo or press-ganged into being a one-woman pit crew for three/four/five hours. Hell no. I'd happily meet the conquering hero at the finish with a snack & a dry change of clothes, but that's about as far as my spously devotion extends. (I certainly don't expect my boyfriend to do more than that--and even then, only for a marathon--& he's put up with my running obsession for over six years now.)

Tip #4:

Advice: Firstly, massive side-eye at the OMG LADIES ARE DELICATE FLOWERS THEY ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO HAVE ACTUAL BODILY FUNCTIONS WITH ACTUAL SMELLS, DISGUSTING!!! vibe happening in this "tip." We're all human. We all have metabolisms and personal biomes. I feel like most athletes I know are self-aware enough to realize when we're emitting eau de long run & jump into the shower before foam rolling getting in some core lounging on the couch with a recovery smoothie beer. But if on some days we're a little more brain dead (it happens), just be a grown-up and use your words. "Oof, girl, u ripe!" works as well as anything. My boyfriend is also fond of, "What's that homeless smell?" If your honey bursts into tears over this,'ve got bigger problems in your relationship to tackle than post-run funk.

Tip #5:

Advice: Is there advice in here somewhere?

Tip #6:

Advice: This pretty much boils down to, "She likes a thing. A LOT. Which is not that weird because maybe there is a thing you like a lot too?" I feel like running websites & magazines would have us believe that we runners/endurance athletes are unique and special in how much we love our thing, and if you are not a runner, CLEARLY you can never have ANY IDEA what it's like to care about something SO MUCH, because running is *definitely* the only thing in life that people ever get really overly-invested in & obsessed with committed to. If you really never have been super duper into something, maybe work on a hobby or two before you get into a relationship with an actual adult human.

Tip #7:

Tip #8: So....this started out like the world's most obvious fact, transitioned into laundry advice (which I think is bullshit, btw), and finished with a healthy dollop of sexism.? Good times.

I don't know what the big deal about running laundry is. Drape it over the edge of the hamper for a day til it's dry. Then throw it in the hamper. (I do all my laundry pretty much every Sunday religiously, and seven days in the hamper has never created enough of an odor to notice unless you're sticking your nose directly in it.) Wash with the rest of your lights & darks as needed. I promise it will not melt/soil your normal clothes. Throw in half a cup of baking soda if you're concerned. Sports bras should probably air dry but honestly I don't see what's so special about wicking material of shorts, tops, etc. that it can't go in the dryer. I have been doing it for years so somebody please tell me if my running clothes are actually all broken from this & I should go out & get new ones right away.

Advice: This is again not an actual tip, but if you are this person, maybe you don't take your partner to races. I mean let's be honest: for non-runners, hanging out a road race is about as fun & interesting as watching paint dry (see tip #3). If s/he's not a runner, do yourself a favor & leave your sweetheart home in bed on race day unless s/he specifically volunteers to come. And maybe even if s/he is. (ProTip: If the volunteering only comes after shameless hint-dropping and/or passive-aggressive shenanigans on your part, it doesn't count as volunteering. If you really, really, really want them to come to something, use your words and ask, and if s/he's not enthusiastic, let it go.)

Also, this quote: "Honey, I'll never understand why you endure months of hard training, only to be disappointed on race day." YEAH HONEY, WHY DON'T YOU JUST STOP DISAPPOINTING YOURSELF ALREADY???

Tip #9:

Advice: Again, no actual advice, but why let that stop us? (Also, clearly a complete lack of familiarity with white noise and/or Peanuts, but that's neither here nor there.) This strikes me as just another illustration of the bizarre ONLY RUNNERS UNDERSTAND ABOUT BEING REALLY, REALLY INTO SOMETHING. The only real advice I have is for the runner gal hosting brunch, which is to DTMFA who equates "really into running" + "enjoys chatting about shared interests with friends" with "one-dimensional" & clearly has some kind of inferiority situation going on.


(For more unique & awesome Valentine's Day cards, visit The Oatmeal!)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Recovery Observations + Shoe Updates

GOD, it is such a gift to be able to run--for any amount of time, with any level of frequency--again. The 8-10 minutes I get on the treadmill every couple of days? Priceless. After years of countless treadmill runs where every minute seemed to stretch into at least three and I couldn't WAIT to do something, *anything* else besides stare at those little red LED numbers, it's amazing how these runs are always over before I know it. (Am I seriously wishing for more time on the 'mill? How's that for irony?)

When you only get 10 minutes and you're trying to savor every second of it, it's amazing how aware you become of everything about what you're body is doing. And apparently, for reasons I don't understand, in my six weeks off from running my form has actually changed dramatically for the better. I find myself leaning forward with no problem (something I was working on but struggling with before the stress fracture), landing on the inner part of my ball of foot / midfoot with less effort, and engaging my glutes & hamstrings so much more easily.

(After the AlterG post I got a question about why I'm trying to run more on the inside part of my foot. This is why:

Left: Windsor Green Half Marathon, May 2012.
Right: Healdsburg Half Marathon, October 2012.

The left foot, I pretty much have under control at this point. The real trick has been getting my right foot to land flat without my right knee collapsing in, which my PT thinks may have played a nonzero part in my hip flexor tear last May. So I've been doing extra strength work for those particular muscles.)

Part of me wonders if this has to do with spending so much time on the bike. With that I definitely find I have to use my glutes & hamstrings a lot, especially doing speed & tempo workouts, so it makes sense that those muscles would be stronger now. (Triathletes, you may have more insight into this than I do!) Also, the fact that my average speed on the spin bike at easy-but-not-too-easy effort has gone from 12 mph to nearly 14 mph seems not insignificant.

The nice thing about being forced to run in short intervals and not having the pressure of an upcoming race is that I have the luxury of focusing on form instead of mileage. I mean yes, I was working on form a lot when I had Berkeley Half and KP Half and NVM on the schedule, but if in the middle of a run my legs would get tired from running with really good form, I was definitely more likely to be like, "Okay, I did a bunch of form miles, but [x] race is only [y] weeks away, so I HAVE to get the miles in, even if my form for the rest of this run is maybe not so great." For the time being, I think I want to institute and all-form-all-the-time rule -- If my legs get too tired to keep up good form, I'd rather take a little walking break & end up with slightly less mileage than get all the mileage but wear myself out too much to run well the whole time. (So basically it'll be like the Couch-2-5K of running form.)


OK here's the thing about getting injured towards the end of the year: You get to spend all of January getting all kinds of crazy coupons & emails about sales & discounts from all your favorite running stores, sometimes on shoes you've been eying for a while.

Boring responsible angel brain: You don't need those shoes. You have plenty of running shoes, and oh BTW, did I mention you can't even use them right now???

Smooth-talkin' rationalizin' devil brain: You know you're going to buy them anyway, and who KNOWS when there'll be another sale/coupon/whatever like this? Really, it's irresponsible NOT to buy them!

You can probably guess who won the majority of those battles. And then just as you're starting to be able to run again and maybe put some of those new shoes into use, you get sent a prototype pair to wear test. So I guess what I'm saying is that maybe sometime around March, I'll have some shoe reviews for you that I'm really excited about.

Aw, what's this, now?????



* * *

Grand Total: 61.65 miles

    * 5.35 running
    * 30 easy (bike)
    * 6.7 speed (bike)
    * 8.3 tempo (bike)
    * 11.3 elliptical


Afternoon 1.4 run (4 x 2:00 on / 2:00 off); p.m. karate + light strength

For I think the third week in a row I woke up on Monday feeling like absolute death. At this point I've pretty much concluded that our house is harboring some sort of mold that I'm horrifically allergic to & being in the house over the weekend is too much. I had to skip my usual Monday morning strength session because of a classroom observation, but honestly I think if it hadn't been for that I would have stayed home because I just felt that bad.

I've really been enjoying getting back into karate, although I have learned that I have to take it easy on my leg & give myself lots of breaks. There's even been some protest from the non-injured parts of my legs--they're still in the process of getting used to kicking high again, which tends to cause achey hamstrings (and whatever those tendons in there are as well).


a.m. 3.75 elliptical / p.m bike - 3.5 warm up, 4 x (5:00 @ 5K effort / 3:00 easy), 5.35 cool down = 14 speed.

I usually try to do 45 minutes of bike or elliptical on double days, but I was still feeling pretty crappy Tuesday morning, particularly in the chest / sinuses / breathing areas, and just making it to half an hour was miserable enough as it was. Fortunately I was feeling relatively human again by the afternoon & was able to make it up on the bike.


a.m. strength work / afternoon 12.9 bike / p.m. karate (at which I did my first flying axe kick in nearly two months, which was pretty sweet. Alas, no camera!).


a.m. 1.75 run (5 x 2:00 w/ 2:00 walk breaks) & 3.5 elliptical / p.m. 4 elliptical

THE GOOD: No leg pain on the treadmill! I think the healing may be far enough along that I can start running every other day instead of every three.

THE BAD: On Thursday afternoon I suffered massive carb fail. I felt like I'd eaten enough & well throughout the day & even had a couple of teaspoons of honey in my tea right before I left work for the gym, just to be safe. But WOW, not 15 minutes in and I suddenly felt like I was going to pass out from hunger. I did 30 minutes instead of my usual 45 (because I'm pretty sure I would have passed out otherwise), scarfed the banana I had in the car, then gunned it home & proceeded to devour half a box of Triscuits (which are my new favorite source of whole grains).


Strength work + bike - 3.2 warm up, 2 x (16:00 @ marathon effort / 3:00 easy), 2.1 cool down = 13.6 tempo.

Thanks to some schedule weirdness on Friday, I got to do these two workouts back-to-back, which suuuuucked. I did slightly less strength stuff than usual because I didn't want to ruin my tempo, er, ride, but even so, I could tell as soon as I started that I was tired & it would not be a particularly speedy ride.

Saturday: Rest / beer it up, yo.

All sours, all the time at The Monk's Kettle. Not joking, I cannot
remember the last time I was out til nearly one in the morning. SAD!

Sunday: 2.2 run (6 x .25 run w/ 2:00 walk breaks)

Technically I did violate the terms of my parole PT on Sunday by running on pavement, but the weather was nasty & I just wasn't all that enthusiastic about spending as much time driving to & from the track as I would actually running.

Monday, February 3, 2014

New Month, New Year, New Chapter

First, a huge shout-out to Jen, through whom I ran Kaiser Permanente Half vicariously this weekend. In spite of wind, cold temps, & icy rain, she not only ran a PR but smashed two hours for the first time. (Unfortunately, I suck at spectating & never managed to spot her. But hey, solidarity!!) CONGRATULATIONS JEN!!!

It was no CIM '12, but there was definitely cold and wind and rain
aplenty to contend with. (I do agree with Jen that after CIM '12, there's
just not a race day forecast out there that could possibly shake me.)

The iconic "Kaiser Permanente" windmill! (At least that's how I always think of it.)

I don't know any of those people. The only real point of this picture is to prove I was there.

Kaiser Permanente '10 was the first half marathon that I ran in the Bay Area; as I was walking along the last mile or so of the course, it occurred to me that I actually don't remember the end of the race. I remember cursing the Great Highway & wanting to shoot myself around mile 11, but I actually don't remember running past the windmill or finishing. At all. Weird.

Friends, it is a new month. This month is noteworthy for a few reasons.

1) It is the month of my birth. While I don't go in for too much craziness on the celebration side, it does always kind of feel a little like second New Year's to me. A fresh start & all that. (Plus it's a palindrome birthday so yay?)

2) It is Strong Beer Month, which includes SF Beer Week.

If you live in the Bay Area & enjoy beer, clear an afternoon sometime this week & peruse the schedule. Yes, it will take some time, but your life will be richer for it.

3) It is the month in which I return to running.

I can only hope that these three carefully selected "gifs" have adequately expressed to you my excitement about this.

I mentioned last week how after the bone scan the sports medicine doctor said that my recovery would be symptom-driven & I could do anything that didn't hurt AND that I could probably try running again in another six weeks, which are two completely & totally different sets of instructions.

On Friday I brought it up with my PT, & he agreed that 11 weeks was excessive (apparently he commonly starts putting patients on the AlterG at 50% bodyweight four weeks after they're diagnosed) and that going by my symptoms was fine. He said he suspected the doctor was just being extra-careful given than I'm not a regular patient of his and he'd only seen me twice.

After establishing that my running on the AlterG hadn't caused any pain or soreness in the couple of days after, he declared that it was fine for me to start running on soft surfaces (treadmill, track, dirt, etc.--basically anything besides pavement) in two minute increments & see how that felt.

For the second time in two weeks, I could have wept with joy.

For now, I get 4 x (2:00 run / 2:00 walk) every other day. If that goes well & I don't have any pain (during or after), I can increase the length & number of intervals little by little each week. If I do have some pain, I have to back off to every third day.

New Month, New Year, New Goals:

I've got some bigger ones in the back of my head, but for now I'm trying to stay focused on the small victories & just getting my leg healthy again. On Feb. 23 I'll turn 33, so here are some very very NOT arbitrary, scientifically determined goals for that day:

  • A+ Goal: Run for 33 minutes on my 33rd birthday.
  • A Goal: Run 3.3 miles on my 33rd birthday
  • B Goal: Run for 23 minutes on 2/23
  • C Goal: Run 2.3 miles on 2/23

I think this time round I won't jinx myself by inviting the world to "bring it."

* * *

Grand Total: 62.4 miles

    * 34.4 easy (bike)
    * 5.2 speed (bike)
    * 8 tempo (bike)
    * 13.4 elliptical
    * 1.4 honest-to-god RUNNING!!!


a.m. strength work / p.m. bike, 13.1 easy.

I really try very hard not to judge what other people are not doing at the gym, but really??? ADMIT IT, YOU JUST MADE THAT THING WITH THE BALL UP.

I have also noticed that often I am the only woman in the gym wearing shorts instead of tights (so like the only one out of maybe 30). Or sometimes there will be *one* other girl. Personally, I can't wear tights in the gym unless I'm going to yoga because I leave puddles of sweat on everything I touch as it is. It's got me wondering if there's some underlying reason for it, or if by some freak of nature they all just happen to have the same preference & I just happen to have the opposite one. (FWIW that does seem to be the case quite a lot, which I've sort of accepted.)


Bike - 3.5 warm up, 4 x (5:00 @ 5K effort / 3:00 easy), 5.35 cool down = 14 speed.


a.m. strength work / afternoon 6.5 elliptical / p.m. karate + light strength.


a.m. 6.9 elliptical / p.m. 9.5 bike

Just like last week, my legs felt worn out Thursday morning, but once again I had my fastest elliptical session ever.


1.4 run / walk; Bike - 1.5 warm up, 6 @ marathon effort, 2 @ LT effort, 1.5 cool down = 11 tempo.

I did my running on the treadmill, going at an easy 8:30-8:40 pace for two minutes, then waking quickly for two minutes, wash/rinse/repeat four times. It was mostly okay (I was glad see that I haven't backslidden too much & that pace still feels easy, at least for two minutes at a time), but I did have a little soreness in the outside of my leg toward the end and after I got home and also some sensitivity with pressure. Which was just as well, given that I don't have access to a treadmill on the weekends, so I wasn't able to do anymore running until Monday anyway.

I've pretty much given up on swimming on the weekend. It might happen in the future, but right now those two rest days are working pretty well for me, given that I'm not actually training for anything (and oh yeah trying to grow back a bone).