Tuesday, April 24, 2012

WLJ: Ready to run

I am not a serious runner. Serious runners, in my opinion, will run in any weather.  They will even get on a treadmill for mile after mile if they can't get outside. They participate in roughly ten races each year. If not more. 

This is not me.  I hate the treadmill.  I can barely stay on it for a mile.  As far as weather is concerned, the perfect weather is upper 60s, slight breeze off the lake.  I have run in 90+ degree weather and in 40s, but I'm not a fan, and not likely to stay out long.  I did recently try running in the rain, and that was surprisingly pretty fun.

But seriously, I'm not a serious runner.

If anything, I'm a casual runner.  I have been running for less than two years.  I started with the Couch 2 5K program, and actually had to go through it twice to finally complete it.  After I graduated from the program, I basically stopped running for several months ... mostly because it was winter, but also, I think, because I wasn't sure what to do next.  I picked it back up when the weather got nice, and since then it's become one of my favorite forms of exercise and a great way to release stress. I've completed three 5Ks and hope to do five this year (need to get on that soon).

That said, I am still trying to find my way in the sport/exercise.  And now that the weather is getting nicer, I have a feeling I'll be hitting the trail more often. I'm not aiming for any marathons, but I would like to improve.  At this point, that just means I want to get faster.  But I also want to get the most out of my runs.

So I want to ask some advice of serious runners.  I posted some questions below with some additional thoughts on each query.  If any serious runners are reading this (or even casual runners like me), please give me your input.  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Do you run with music or nothing?
I used to run with music, but my last few runs have been accompanied by nothing but the sound of my own breathing and nature.  I think I run faster without music, but I like the Nike+ prompts telling me how far I've gone. So I'm on the fence about this.

What do you use to track your distance and pacing?
If I decide to go without my ipod, I would be interested in some other (reasonably priced) device I can use to check my distance and mileage.  It should be easily visible (aka, able to wear on the wrist) and easy to program. Everything else is gravy.

What and when do you eat before running?
I am still trying to figure out the perfect pre-workout snack.

Do you run the same route all the time or change it up?
I stick to the same route right now, mostly because I can walk out my door and hit it.  It's a gorgeous route along the lake, and I like it.  But I don't want to get bored. I've been thinking about driving to another area of town.

How often do you change shoes?
I know running shoes are kind of like tires.  You're supposed to change them out after so many miles.  But I have no idea how many miles are on mine.  Like I said, I'm not a serious runner.  I'm not even a regular runner, so I have no way of knowing how "used" my shoes are.

Do you do any other form of training or exercise?
I love cardio (running and Zumba), but I know I need to balance it with some strength or resistance training.  I've tried kettlebell and yoga, but I haven't found anything I absolutely love.  I'm open to suggestions!!

What is your favorite thing about running?
For me, it's getting outside and getting away from my phone/computer for about an hour.  It's a nice break.

Any other advice/suggestions/words of encouragement?

Weight-loss goal: 40 lbs.
This week's progress: +/- 0 lbs.
Progress to date: -22.8 lbs.
Non-scale victory: I performed Zumba at the local Fiesta Latina on Sunday.  This is huge because I am not a public performance kind of person.  It's probably the first time I've done choreography in public since high school cheerleading.  I'm pretty sure I was trembling through the first of the five songs.  I wasn't perfect on all the steps, but I survived.  However, if you see a video out there labeled, "whitest girl ever dancing to Latin music," it's probably me.


  1. Good for you! Due to bad knees, I can't really run. :/ I can do a light jog, but I have to pace myself. I wish I could. I live by a high school and they have a track that the public can use during certain hours. I'm too big of a chicken to go jogging through the streets of south Dallas!


  2. I don't run with music, I like to get away from it all. Plus I use running for a form of meditation and music gets in the way. I run by time. For example, I go for an hour run. The benefits of running for time as opposed to mileage is if you are having a bad day you do less miles and if you are feeling good you do more miles. Just run how you feel for a set amount of time. This will be less stressful and more enjoyable. I like to run on an empty stomach, so if I run in the morning I only drink water. If I run in the evening my last meal is my lunch. You should have enough energy stores in your body so that you don't have to eat 3-4 hours before you run. Be careful what you do eat before you run. If you eat something that raises your blood sugar your insulin will kick in and this will make you feel like you have no energy. I run the same route most of the time because I'm a creature of habit. I change my shoes when the tread starts wearing out. My favorite thing about running is it is a great way to stay healthy. Like you I also like getting outdoors and when I finish I have a sense of accomplishment.

    Btw, I've been running since I was 12 years old and I ran competitively in high school and college. My ideal job would be a running coach.

  3. I run mostly with music but it is nice to take in the surroundings without music. I ran a half marathon without music once… never doing that again.

    I’ve been using Nike+ to track my pace/mileage but next month I’ll make the move to buying a Garmin watch (it’s so expensive)! The Nike + site has improved a lot since I started using it and it’s supposed to get better this summer. I love that it can give you mile splits (your time at each mile marker).

    I have a sensitive stomach when it comes to running. I’m not one of those blessed runners who can drink a cup of coffee before a run/race. I even have to watch what I eat the night before. Hopefully, that’s not the case for you. I’m a morning runner so I run on an empty stomach unless it’s longer than an 8-mile run. I’ll eat half a bagel with PB about 30 minutes before a long run.

    I usually run the same route but sometimes drive to the park or a neighborhood with fewer traffic lights so I don’t have to constantly pause my run. There are quite a few lakes in my area so I have been taking advantage of my location.

    The benchmark for changing shoes is 300-500 miles but this depends on a lot of factors such as weight, height, running surface, and running style/efficiency (overpronation). My knees let me know when it’s time to change shoes, which is usually at 500 miles. Also, I only use my shoes for running. I use other shoes to use at the gym.

    I’ve learned that cross-training is an important part of my training. I got a personal trainer two months ago and strength training has improved my pace! Another benefit to strength training is prevention of injury. Spin-class is another good form of X-training and kickboxing is my fun cardio class. Swimming is an excellent option. I’ll have to incorporate swimming this summer/fall to change things up.

    I love running because it’s a great way to relieve stress. I’ve suffered from migraines since middle school (multiple migraines a month) and becoming a serious runner has reduced them to 1-2 every few months. Obviously, I am less stressed and have more money in my pocket by not paying for prescription meds. I’ve participated in sports since I was a kid. As an adult, it’s harder to work your busy schedule to participate in team sports. Running allows me to be competitive with myself. You never run out of goals to achieve.

    Congrats on all the progress you’ve made! To quote Bill Bowerman (running coach and co-founder of my favorite brand), “If you have a body, you’re an athlete.” Anyone can be a runner! I never thought I’d be able to run more than 3 miles at a time. I was so wrong. Don’t let your mind limit your abilities and goals!


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