Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Down for the count

Haven't heard from me for a while? There's a good reason. That sore hip - well, it went from bad to worse. It finally drove me to the orthopedist, who diagnosed me with bursitis. She offered several treatment options, including injections, pain meds, and physical therapy. Wanting to fix the problem, I opted for PT.

I've now spent several early mornings in physical therapy, and I have to say that so far I love it! It's a bit like having a personal trainer. And they aren't taking it easy on me for sure. The goal is to strengthen the hip muscles so they will do a better job supporting me while I run - I never knew there were so many ways to exercise your hips! By the end of the workout I can barely walk. Fortunately it's all muscle pain, no bursitis pain.

I am enjoying being the rock star of physical therapy. This is partly due to the fact that I'm about 30 years younger than the average patient. I'm also in pretty good shape from all of that running, so I'm able to do the cardio portions of the workout with no difficulty. For the kid who was always picked last in gym, being queen of PT is an honor of which I'm pretty darn proud.

This is one of the exercises I do. Look easy? Think again.
And I do it with no hands.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Did you wonder what happened to me?

I'm still here. I took a bit of a break from running for a while. This was partly due to major home improvement projects, and also to rest my sore hip.

I did run once on vacation - nothing like running at 20 knots! I tried out the jogging track on our cruise ship!
(I have no idea who these people are - just the Carnival stock footage people.)

It wasn't my favorite running experience. As you can imagine, it was incredibly windy and rather cold. I really wished I had had earmuffs, because after a mile or so my ears were freezing! I gave up, but B ran for quite a while. Had I run again on the ship, I would have stuck to the treadmill in the gym.

After that long hiatus, B and I went for a run last night. I was pleased at how quickly I'm coming back - I managed a 5k with only a two-minute walk at the midway point. I was pretty pleased. I'm thinking about running a rack this weekend!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Slowing down

After that first 5k, I was really looking forward to getting into the runner groove - running 5k three times a week, hopefully starting to actually enjoy it, and getting my time down to 30 minutes. And just as I was getting there...


Nothing major. I have some pain in my right hip, and more disturbingly, and clicking/popping sensation in it when I walk or run. It's not awful, but the popping/clicking is unsettling and uncomfortable enough that I'm favoring the other hip. I think this mean running is on hold for a while.

Dr. Google has found several diagnosis for a snapping/popping hip, and none of them are too pretty. Included in the list of possibilities is a cartilage tear. Joy.

Other than rest, I'm kind of at a loss as to what to do for my hip. Ice? Heat? Doctor visit? I'm just not sure. One thing I am sure of, though. I'm older than I think I am.

Friday, August 20, 2010


I was a smart kid in school. I always did well in classes, and I was used to seeing A's on my report card, maybe with a B in math here and there. The first C I ever got was in 4th grade, first semester, in PE. Why the C? It was the first time we had to do the mile run. I think it took me about 15 minutes. It would have been faster to just walk the thing. I'm pretty sure 4th grade PE was when I began to hate running.

Looking back, I'm pretty certain that I had exercise-induced asthma (which I was finally diagnosed with at the age of 26). I also know that we didn't do any sort of training for this - we were just sent out to the track to run. Maybe if we had done something along the lines of Couch to 5k, I might have done better. But the mile run was always a terrible experience for me all the way through school. I was the kid who couldn't do it every single time. Running was painful and embarrassing, and I had no desire to ever do it again once I was out of school.

After my asthma diagnosis I started running, but once I actually ran a mile and proved that I could do it, I lost my motivation. The mile was where I stopped.

So imagine my sense of achievement, not to mention my surprise, when I ran 5.11k on Wednesday in 32:00, and 5k today in 34:30. I feel like a runner, and I can't believe that it happened so quickly. I'm on top of the world and so proud of myself - I want to tell everyone that I can now run 5k!

There's a race on Sunday, and I think I'm going to enter. There's no fee, it's local, and pretty small. It seems like the perfect place to put my new 5k skills to the test!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Haiku Thursday

Weeks of training hard
A cool and rainy morning
Ran my first 5k

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A few of my favorite things

Sweatbands and short shorts and sneakers with laces,
Sports bras that keep you from bouncing in races,
Shirts that wick sweating, an iPod that sings,
These are a few of my favorite things!

As I've mentioned before, I'm a sports accessory junkie. I love the gear that goes along with sports. I blame this addiction on Girl Scouts. There are so many cool camp accessories - does it get much better than a mess kit, which has a plate, bowl, cup, and fry pan all in one little package? But I digress.

Running has its own set of accessories. Yes, I know the saying that all you need is a pair of shoes (and I say for women a good sports bra) but even if that's all that you NEED, there are some great things that help (or are at least a lot of fun.) Here are a few of my favorites (so far).

Running shoes are a very personal thing. Of course the most important thing is fit, so what one person recommends might be a disaster. But for what it's worth, these days I'm running in the New Balance WR 760. I'm really happy with the shoe, and will probably get it again. A close runner up was the Nike Pegasus, which I might also try in the future.

Sports Bra
Yes, I know I wrote a whole post on these, but it's a subject near to my heart. (Get it? Near to my heart?) Anyway, much like shoes, fit is everything. But my favorite by far is the Jockey C-Cup and Up Bounce Minimizer. It only comes in black and white, which is too bad, but it's a great bra for high-impact sports (if you're a c cup or up).

(No, that's not me in the picture)


Sure, you can run in anything, but running shorts really are more comfortable. I prefer the type with the brief lining, which keeps them from riding up when you run. I'm struggling to find the perfect pair. Many that are too short ride up in the legs and cause that nasty chafing. I have one pair that a love, made by Duofold, but I can't find them anywhere now. I suspect that they aren't making them anymore, which makes me sad. They're great shorts, and I would love to buy a few more. I may try compression-style running shorts next. While I hate the way they look, I'm not finding the traditional style to fit me right now.


Yes, you can run in any T-shirt. And I often do. But when it's really hot, it's nice to have something that wicks away moisture. No favorite brands for this one, but look for something that proclaims that it wicks on the label. I'm cheap and bought my most recent running tops from Wal-Mart. Shhh, don't tell.


This is one way that modern technology has really helped the runner. Much like GPS for your car, you can get small GPS units for running and biking. I can thank my husband for this - he already owned one and I get to use it. It's great for keeping track of time, mileage, speed, and even how to get back home (more or less). When the battery on ours died mid-run this weekend, I was really bummed. Now that I'm used to it, I can't imagine running without one.

We have a Garmin Forerunner, which has been great for us. It's a few years old, so I'm sure that the newer models have more bells and whistles and I know that they are much smaller - like a big wristwatch. I really just care about the time and distance, so I'm fine with ours.


You know that this is already. I find running (especially on a treadmill) to get a little boring, so bringing along my favorite tunes really helps. I'm sure that the tiny nanos and shuffles are great for running, but I just strap my big old classic to my arm and go for it. I suppose you could also use another brand of MP3 player. Does anyone actually have another brand of MP3 player?

So there you have it - a few of my favorite running things. Be sure to stop back when the weather turns cooler, as I'll be reviewing my running in cold weather favorites (once I have some).

Oh, and my updates - I had a crazy early morning at work yesterday and today, so I skipped running. And I have an appointment after work, so I can't go tonight. Tomorrow, I promise!

Monday, August 9, 2010

My sneaky husband

Well today was a surprise, especially for me! B and I went running like we usually do on Monday mornings. Today I grabbed a banana first, under the theory that I needed some fuel for a long (for me) run. My goal was 28 minutes, no walking breaks.

When we run together, B is always the time keeper. He has this super-cool GPS unit* that he wears on his wrist to keep track of time and mileage. I also helps if we get turned around in the neighborhoods around ours. Anyway, I was doing really well. As I was nearing the end of the run, I began my usual round of complaining about how much I hate running, how bad I felt, etc. I told B to let me know when I was at some "inspirational" amount of time left, like less than two minutes. Not long after, he told me we were a 1:30. "Sweet!" I thought, "I can do that! I'm going to finish this run!"

A minute and a half past, and I thankfully slowed down to a walk. That's when Brian showed me the GPS. The time read 30:02! He pushed me to 30 minutes! He said that I didn't start complaining until 27:30, so he knew I could push through. I can't believe that I actually did it. Amazing how well deception can work!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Haiku Thursday

It's hot and humid

Running outside is no fun

Going to the gym

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The most important running equipment a woman can own!

Yep, this is a post about sports bras. Gentlemen, there's really nothing for you here, so you can skip this entry. But you like to read about breasts? You might think so, but we're venturing into territory today that most men fear. Be warned.

To paraphrase my friend M, you can run barefoot on the beach, but not without a sports bra! This was in my response to my acertation that a good sports bra was as important as a good pair of running shoes. And I hear women make the following statements all of the time, that make me cringe:

"I have to wear two sports bras at once."

"I have to wear a regular bra under my sports bra."

"They don't make sports bras in my size."

Au contraire, ladies. There is a sports bra out there that will work for you, no matter how big you may be. Don't give up! But do give up looking in your local retail stores. There's nothing for you there. This is a job for the internet! Yes, I know, you can't try things on when you buy them online, and you might have to pay shipping. But for something as important as a sports bra, it's worth it. My good friend J, a big-busted lady, and I have spent some hours discussing the merits of different types of sports bras, web sites that sell them, etc. Here are some of the ideas that our combined genius has generated.

There are a lot of styles of sports bras out there, intended for a lot of differently sized breasts and different sports activities. A "minimum impact" sports bra might be great for yoga, but don't take it on your next run unless your cups are very close to the beginning of the alphabet. And buying a bra too large in the band and small in the cups (as many women do) will result in a whole lot of discomfort. So where to begin?

First, find out what your bra size is. The best way to do this is go to a specialty lingerie shop and have a proper fitting. You might be shocked that while you thought you were a 38C, you're actually a 34DD. The difference is huge. Make sure you buy a sports bra that will fit your correct bra size! The wrong size sports bra will not do for you what it should!

There are some fantastic websites for buying sports bras. My favorite is Title Nine Sports. (If you can't figure out the reference in their name, Google is your friend.) The wonderful people at Title Nine have a fantastic selection of sports bras, all of which they have reviewed and rated in a 1 through 5 barbell system. They have bras for the biggest- and smallest-breasted of athletes in a variety of styles. They aren't cheap, but aren't your boobs worth it?

Another great place to look is at specialty lingerie stores, like Bare Necessities. They carry bras in a variety of sizes for all activities. Again, you're going to pay, but if you're looking for a good quality sports bra in a tough to find size, this is another great place.

There seem to be two schools of thought when it comes to sports bras. The first group is concerned they their sports bras enhance their busts, and don't give them a mashed-down, or "uniboob" look. The other group doesn't care how flat-chested they look, they just want to eliminate bounce. I fall into the second group. Most of my sports bras flatten me out to almost nothing. And I'm ok with that. I'm running, not competing in the Miss America pagent. I tend to purchase "compression" type sports bras, not the underwire or "encapsulating" styles of bra.

Another thing to condier is underwear as outerwear. When it's hot out, it's nice to run in just shorts and a sports bra - but I won't do that with those that look like underwear. Please, do yourself a favor and only wear your sports bra as outerwear if you have a cute sports bra. The bra tops that you see everywhere are great - if you have tiny boobs. If you're a C or better, move on for high impact activities like running.

Where do you buy sports bras? Any recommendations for your favorites? Please post them below!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My first running affliction (and product review!)

I decided to brave the great outdoors again for my run today. The temperature was below 80 when I got up, so I thought I'd give it a shot. It turned out to be not such a great idea. The humidity was really up, making it hard to breathe and generally sticky and miserable. I only made it to 22 minutes of my 28 minute run. I think it will be back to the gym on Friday.

There was another issue with running on such a humid day, especially in a pair of really cheap running shorts - my first bout of chafing. I know this is a common affliction among runners in a variety of areas of the body, particularly the thighs and (ouch on this one) the nipples. Fortunately my case isn't too bad, but still unpleasant as I sat at my desk at work, particularly since I unwisely chose to wear a skirt today.

I mentioned this situation to my dear friend J (she'll appear again, no worries) and she said that, ironically, she had just seen an ad on TV the night before for a product to treat and prevent chafing. All she could remember was that it began with an L. A quick Yahoo search turned up Lanacane Anti-Chafing Gel.

The website proclaimed that this product "soothes and prevents chafing." It also proclaimed to be non-greasy, non-staining, and moisture proof. Sold. So over my lunch break, I stopped by CVS and picked up a tube. The price was $7.49, but with my Extra Care Card I saved $1.50, thus only paid $5.99. I was a little concerned when this only bought me a 1 oz. tube, but the box proclaimed "Economical. A small amount goes a long way and lasts a long time."

It must have said three or four times on the box and tube to only use a small amount, so I did. The gel is clear, and has a super smooth, silky texture. I rubbed a little on and was immediately impressed with how much better I felt. And indeed, a tiny dab did go a long way. I will certainly be using this for my run on Friday. Time will tell if helps me to heal up faster than usual.

My husband, B, also suffers from the occasional running or biking induced chafe, so I'll be sure to have him test this out as well. So far, I have to say that this product is a winner. My only complaint would be that there is a bit of excess packaging, but the cardboard can be recycled.

Let me know if you have any tips for preventing the chafe (other than this awesome product).

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Well this is not what I expected...

I've never been much of a scale person. I don't own one, and I usually only have a general idea of how much I weigh. When I got my Wii Fit for my last birthday (thanks, B!) I found out how much I weighed all the time, because you have to do a daily test. Then when I started running, I didn't get out Wii Fit for quite a while.

I finally decided this week that I should be doing some strength training as well as running, so I popped the Wii Fit disc into the Wii and got ready to work out. And what did that annoying little anthropomorphic Wii Fit board* tell me? Well, after berating me for not using Wii Fit for 60 days, it told me that I have gained 5 pounds in the past two months.
Gained. GAINED?!? Are you kidding me?

Yes, I know, it's probably because I have put on more muscle mass, and muscle weighs more than fat. Yes, I know that I started this whole journey at the low end of a normal body weight anyway, and I had no intention to lose weight. And I know that this is probably a healthier weight for me, anyway. But really, who starts running three times a week and gains weight?

* This guy. He's annoyingly cute.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sad News

In very, very sad news, my friend Kelly Freitas passed away last week after a year-long battle with breast cancer. She was only 31 years old. In a way, she's the reason I started running. I walked Race for the Cure for her, and that's where I decided to become a runner. I am making it my goal to run in Race for the Cure every year in her memory. You can read her story through her and her own words on her blog, Manny and Kelly in Sickness and in Health. She was a remarkably positive person, even when dealing with the most unfair of situations.

These pictures were taken at her wedding, just a few weeks before her diagnosis of Stage 3 Triple Negative breast cancer.

Donations can be made in Kelly's name to the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation.

Week 6 Day 3 (Third Time's the Charm!)

Week 6 day 3 was not my friend. I tried to run it on Monday - fail. I tried again on Wednesday - epic fail. I was simply running out of energy about 3/4 of the way through the run, but not able to make it to 25 minutes. Wednesday's attempt even ended with what I'll call an asthma "incident" (I won't go as far as to say attack) in which breathing was a little on the challenging side.

I'll argue that the weather has something to do with this. It's a brutal summer here in Northern VA. Today's high was 102 degrees. That's without the humidity, which was sky-high, giving us a heat index of more than 110 degrees. When I woke up it was already close to 90. So I did what any rational person would do. I attempted W6 D3 again. But this time, indoors. The gym has a whole row of fancy treadmills that have everything from a place to put my water bottle to a charging station for my iPod. And did I mention, AIR CONDITIONING. Wow, what a difference that made. It wasn't easy, but with the help of the AC I was able to complete that 25 minute run, with 5 minutes of walking on either end. I'm FINALLY done with week 6.

From here on out the interval training is over. Week 7 is three days of 28 minute runs. That three minutes may not sound like a lot, but I was DONE at 25 minutes today. 28 will be a challenge. But I'm really feeling good about finishing this thing, even if it takes me a few extra weeks.

I decided that from here on out I'm ditching the c25k Podcasts. They were fantastic while I was doing intervals, but not really necessary now that I'm just doing long runs. Instead I'm making my own playlists that last the correct length, with obvious cues for the warmup and cooldown walks.

I've also decided that as long as this brutal heat continues, I'm running inside. It's not as interesting as outside, but the AC is really helpful. And it's not too boring - the treadmills face a mirror, so I can watch people use all of the crazy other aerobic machines and weight machines.

It's at least a little bit entertaining. Plus I can watch myself in the mirror. It's fun to see my face go from peachy to tomato red over the course of the run. And I can also admire how hard core I look running. That's good for at least five minutes!

Stay tuned for my attempts at week 7, plus my reviews of the assorted running stuff I have picked up in this journey!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Runner's High

Today was week 5, day 3. The big, scary, unimaginable day, where I had to run for 20 minutes straight. And you know what? I DID IT. I actually ran for 20 minutes without stopping. B's GPS said that was about 1 3/4 miles (the longest I've ever run before is a mile). I am so excited - I can't believe that I actually managed.

The weather was great this morning, which always helps. And B picked a fairly flat running route - only 1 hill to speak of. I had no trouble getting up the hill on the way out. We turned around at the halfway point and I had to do the hill again. By the time I hit the top I was really ready to quit. Then as I started the downhill, I started to feel better. My legs stopped hurting. It was easier to breathe. I'm told this is due to the release of endorphins, leading to "runner's high." I was ready to stop at the 20 minute mark, but I really felt that I could have kept going if I needed to do so.

I'm doubly excited to hear from a running co-worker that once your body achieves runner's high, you get there faster and faster. It's like your brain learns how to do it and it gets easier and easier. Hopefully this is true, because week from here on out it won't be easy. Week 6 is similar to week 5, with a different program each day, but from week 7 there is no more walking. The amazing part? I really think I can do it.

Friday, July 9, 2010

I am awesome.

Week 5 day 2, I own you! What a great run this morning. Finally a bit of a break in the record-breaking heat (and in Northern VA, that's HOT!)! This morning actually felt a little bit cool, and while the humidity is still incredibly high, it felt a lot better out there.

Week 5 had me really nervous. Day 1 was 5 min walk, 5 min run, 3 min walk, 5 min run, 3 min walk, 5 min run, 5 min walk. Believe it or not, I found that to be much harder than today, which was a 5 min walk, 8 min run, 5 min walk, 8 min run, 5 min walk. What really has me scared is day 3, which I will tackle on Monday. Day 3 is a 5 min walk and then a 20 min run, followed by the standard 5 min cooldown. Ummm... how do I go from 8 min to 20 minutes? Shouldn't there be some sort of intermediate step, like a 12 min run, or even 15 min? Because let me tell you, I was excited for the ends of both of those 8 min runs today.

I'm going to keep hoping that the weather stays a bit cooler in the mornings so that my runs are a bit easier, especially since I'm beginning to get into the really hard stuff!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What a difference a day makes!

Today was day 1 of week 4 of c25k. Day 3 of week 3 was really brutal - I struggled a lot and I was really concerned that week 4, with it's longer runs and shorter recovery times, was going to kick my butt. Fortunately, mother nature decided to give me a little help!

On Monday, it was already hot and humid at 6:00am. Walking out my front door felt like stepping into a sauna. B and I were both drenched by the end of the warm-up walk, and I felt like I was breathing underwater. This morning the temperature was in the 60s and the air was much dryer. The sun was shining and there was a cool breeze. It was PERFECT running weather! Day 1 of week 4 actually felt good. I mean, it's not like I'm actually having fun, but at least I managed to do the run without thinking I was going to die the entire time.

In other news, my giant running shoe order arrived last night. I am totally bewildered by the huge selection! Even the couple of pair that were too short could be re-ordered a half size larger(!). I'm a bit lost. How do you people with normal sized feet choose? There are so many options.

I think I've ruled it down to three styles:
  • A New Balance runner very much like my current shoes. Designed for the mild pronator, with good support.
  • Nike Pegasus. I owned a pair of these decades ago, but obviously they have changed a lot. They are a VERY cushy, squishy shoe that feels like walking on pillows.
  • A pair of Saucony runners that are sort of a combination of the above - designed for a pronator, but still with a lot of cushioning.
I have no idea how I will make this decision, plus I could reorder the too-small shoes in a bigger size. How to choose?

Monday, June 28, 2010

More foot trouble

So my husband and I agreed that I should get new running shoes sooner than later, due to the fact that my current running shoes are about 5 years old. I made the decision to try the New Balance store - they had always been so great in the past, and I like their shoes a lot.

We made the trek out to the only store in our area, a good 45 minute drive from our house. We arrived at the store and I found a clerk and explained that I was looking for a pair of running shoes in a 12 AA. The last time I went to a NB store, this one in another city, the associate responded, "No problem! I'll be right back with some for you to try on!" This time, I got, "Ummmm, I don't think we have any. Let me see." He typed away on his computer for a few minutes and said, "Yeah, we don't have any."

I was already in kind of a crummy mood, and I probably wasn't as nice as I should have been. I told him that I had purchased shoes from NB stores in the past, and had never had a problem. He told me that this was a franchise store, not a corporate store, and the owner chose not to stock my size. He then said the single worst thing a shoe store employee can say to a woman with big feet.

"We could try you in men's shoes."

Seriously. Men's shoes. Do I look like a man? I hope not. I do not want men's shoes. I pointed out to him that I need an AA width. He said that they did have men's shoes in stock in AA. Now, may I point out that this store is carrying a men's DOUBLE narrow, but they don't have any shoes in my single narrow size.

I digress. I let him bring out a pair of gray (GRAY?!?) shoes, which of course didn't fit at all. I left discouraged.

The good news is that my husband found a pair of Brooks runners at another store that he really likes. I satisfied my need for retail therapy with a new dress watch from Macy's.

I went home and ordered 9 pair of running shoes from Zappos. They should arrive tomorrow - hopefully one of them will be the perfect shoe for me.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Be good to your feet

I've had an assortment of foot problems over the years, most of which were caused by being born with problematic feet. When I was about 12 or 13 I started getting searing pain down the center of my foot when I walked. A trip to the podiatrist confirmed that I hyperpronate and needed custom orthotics to treat the condition. I was sent off to a specialist who took plaster molds of my feet and several weeks later presented me with a pair of hard plastic orthotics. These solved the problem so thoroughly that I never worried about it again.

This fall I paid a visit to another podiatrist for an unrelated problem. I mentioned that I wore orthotics and showed him my rather tired pair. Apparently you are not supposed to wear the same orthotics for 17 years. Who knew. He wrote me a prescription for new ones and sent me off to get new ones made.

I finally made it to the orthotics lab on Wednesday. I came prepared to have my feet molded in plaster and have another pair of hard plastic orthotics. Imagine my surprise when the technician took a computer scan of my feet, asked a few questions, and sent me on my way. My new (soft rubber) orthotics should arrive in the mail in a few weeks.

Technology is amazing.

For the short term, the tech gave me a pair of off-the-shelf orthotics - apparently mine were not fit for even a few more weeks of use. Today was my first morning running with the new pair, and while it was weird, it was definitely better. I'm hoping that the custom pair are even more comfortable.

On the subject of shoes, B and I have decided that, while a new pair of shoes would be a fun reward at the end of the c25k, I really should have a pair now. So this weekend we're off to the New Balance store to find me the perfect pair - and maybe him as well. Wish us luck!

By the way, today was Day 2, Week 3 of c25k. I'm actually finding week 3 to be easier than week 2. I'm hoping this trend continues! I'm also noticing that while I don't necessarily feel great while running, I feel really good for the rest of the day after I run. Is this what all of your runners talk about?

Monday, June 21, 2010

A word about stuff

I've heard it said that all a person needs to start running is a pair of shoes. (I'll argue that whoever said this was a man, because any woman will tell you that a good sports bra is just as important as a pair of shoes.)* While shoes (and the bra) may be all you need, there is SO much cool STUFF out there!

I've never been much of an athlete, but I do love to shop. This means that typically the most exciting thing about a new sport, for me, is getting the accessories. When I started skiing I bought a second-hand jacket in case I hated skiing. As soon as I discovered that I loved it (and for reasons I still can't figured out I seem to be naturally good at it) I bought a good jacket, ski gloves, and a really cute hat with ear flaps. The day I walked into the dive shop for my first day of scuba lessons, I rubbed my hands together with glee when I saw all of the cool dive accessories. Since I know I love the stuff, I'm using it as a motivator. I will allow myself to buy running stuff as I reach goals. The ultimate? A new pair of running shoes when I finally hit 5k. I know that fit is 100% the most important thing in choosing running shoes, but I really hope that these turn out to work for me.I may have to get them for myself anyway as casual shoes, even if they don't turn out to be the perfect runner. I mean, they're pink!** And part of the proceeds benefit the Susan G. Komen foundation.

This brings me to the real topic of the day, running shoes. Obviously, properly fitting running shoes are really important to running in comfort and preventing injury. I want to be sure that when I fork out the $100+ that I get the right shoes for me (even if they aren't pink). I've been told by many runners that I should be fitted for running shoes at a running or athletic shoe store, where the people really know their stuff. Well, I wear a size 12 N in a running shoe. I've called every store in the area, and they all say the same thing. "I think we might have a pair of women's 12s in the back - I'd have to check. Isn't the point of going to a specialty store to have a lot of selection in exactly what you're looking for? What are the chances that if I went to one of these stores, I would be told that the one pair of 12s in stock is the right pair for me?

I've had luck at New Balance stores in the past - they actually carry 12N in stock in quite a few different styles. But of course if I go there, I will leave with a pair of NB shoes. Don't get me wrong, I love my NB shoes and have worn them for years, but what if Brooks or Asics would be a better choice for me? I'll never know if I go to a store that only carries one brand.

I usually buy shoes from Zappos.com, a huge online shoe store that offers free shipping and free return shipping. I'll order a ton of shoes, try them on, and return what I don't like/doesn't fit at no cost. It's a great system, and they have a huge selection of running shoes in my size. But then I lose out on the advantage of the expert fitter.

My final option is to wait until I make my next trip home, and to go to Reyer's, the world's largest brick and mortar shoe store. They have great sales people who really know shoes, and I'm pretty sure they would have my size, as they specialize in hard-to-find sizes. But that's nearly a two hour drive from my parents' house, which is a five hour drive from my house. Hmmm.

Runners, what do you think? Should I order shoes online or wait and go to the real store? Any recommendations for running shoes that you love?

*More on that later - sports bras deserve their own entry.

**I'm not really that into pink. But I used to have to wear men's athletic shoes because my size was not available. It makes me happy to buy women's shoes in pretty, girly colors. Don't get me started on how excited I was to find socks to fit that were actually intended for women.

Friday, June 18, 2010

I don't know how to run.

So running didn't seem like something that would require a huge skill set. After all, my nieces (1 1/2 and 4) manage to do it all the time. Humans just know how to run.

Or so I thought.

Apparently, according to my expert-runner husband, I don't have proper form. This is amazing to me - isn't running just walking sped up? Apparently not.

It turns out I'm a heel-striker. This means that when I run, I land heel first. I thought you were supposed to do that - after all, I walk heel-toe, why shouldn't I run heel-toe? Apparently coming down hard on your heels is what leads to shin splints, and to the pain I was feeling in my shins after week one of running. When I did a search for "heel strike," I even found a forum post where someone threatened to punch the next person he saw heel striking. I'm going to hope he doesn't live in my neighborhood.

It seems that the reason most of us run heel-toe is because we wear shoes. Take a look at the running shoes in the store - most have a really built-up heel, which cushions you from the impact of crashing down on the heel of your foot. Barefoot runners land more on the ball of the foot, as landing on your heels without any cushioning would hurt like crazy. This is the way our ancestor ran back before someone invented shoes. There is a resurgence of barefoot running now, and some crazy looking running shoes designed to help your run more like a barefoot runner but still protect your feet from hot sidewalks, broken glass, etc. You may have seen people in these shoes, Vibram Five Fingers.

I'm not ready to trade in my New Balance yet, but I do want to try and run "properly." Let me tell you, if you've never run this way before, it does NOT feel natural. As if I needed something else to think about while I'm running! I'm concentrating on not passing out, breathing, not running into parked cars, low hanging trees, and adorable neighbor's kitties (who I would definitely stop and pet if I weren't doing this cursed running program), various aches and pains, and whether or not my running gear is working the way it should.* I really do not need something else to think about. But I don't want to get the dreaded shin splints, nor do I want that guy from the running forum to see me running and punch me, so I'm trying to run with good form.

Today was Day 2 of Week 2 of c25k. It's harder than I expected, since Week 1 was pretty smooth sailing for me. Week 2 is really reminding me of all of the reasons I hate running. But I'm committed, and I have my wonderful husband by my side, cheering me on and telling me he adores me, even when I'm sweaty and red-faced. I'm not giving up. Yet.

* As much as I dislike running, I LOVE running accessories. There will be plenty of gear-review posts in the near future

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Hi, and thanks for reading! I'm not only new to running, but also to blogging, so please know that my blog will continue to look better as I learn more (I hope).

So why am I here? Well, at 30 years old, after hating running most of my life, I decided to give it another shot, this time with the goal of being able to run a 5k, something I have never done. I decided to post a blog about the experience, so that I can get some fans to cheer me on and maybe to inspire someone else.

So let's set up this little story, first with the characters.

The Runner:

Laurel, 30 years old, and in relatively good shape before starting this running thing. I'm not trying to lose weight in this process, just generally firm up and be healthier. I've always hated running, and had a lot of bad experiences in PE class as a kid. I was diagnosed with mild asthma at 25 and suspect that this is what made running so hard as a kid. I started running shortly after my diagnosis, but lost enthusiasm after I managed to run my first mile.

The Supportive Husband:

My wonderful husband of one year, B, is a major player in this goal. A former distance runner turned distance cyclist due to bad knees, he is running along with me until I hit 5k or his knees give out, whichever happens first. While I wheeze, gasp, complain, and cry, he calmly jogs along beside me and cheers me on without breaking a sweat. It's a little disgusting.

(OK, there aren't really a lot of characters right now. But it could still be a good story.)

The Setting: The Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC. Sometimes referred to as NoVA

The Plot: So why did I decide to start running again? It began at the DC Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, a 5k which I walked this year. About 40,000 people showed up at the National Mall for the Race - it was inspiring, amazing, and raised a ton of money for a great cause. As my friends and I made our way to the walker starting area, we went past the runners' starting line. As I looked out at the nearly 7500 people who ran the 5k, I was jealous. I can't entirely explain why, but I wanted to be them. I wanted to be one of the elite few who ran this race instead of walking. I still don't know exactly why. But I do know that that's where my quest to run a 5k began.

I also have several marathoner friends (including one who holds the world record for joggling a marathon - that's running the marathon while juggling the entire time). I figured if these friends could run 26.2 miles, I should be able to do slightly more than three.

There's one more factor - embarrassment. I apparently look like a runner - I'm tall and slim, and people tend to assume I run. When I mentioned to a co-worker that I had started running, he said, "Oh, did you have an injury or something and are just getting back to it?" The idea that I had never been a runner didn't occur to him. I'm always a little ashamed to admit that I can't run more than a few hundred yards without stopping. I'm going to put an end to that.

I was fortunate to get turned on to the Couch to 5k (sometimes referred to as c25k) program by a marathoner friend. I'll reference it a lot. You can check it out yourself. The program, and Robert Ullrey's c25k Podcasts, are available for free at www.c25k.com. (You can also get the Podcasts on iTunes.)

So that's probably more than enough for now. Thanks for reading, and I'll do my best to keep you posted on my progress!