Wednesday, November 28, 2012

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday

Monday, November 26, 2012

"How to" Tuesday: How to Start Running

"HOW TO" Tuesdays - yeah I'm gonna pretend to be an expert on something besides irregularly posting on my blog...ha!  

Today's "how to" stems from a conversation I had with a non-running friend who asked not only how to get started running, but also how to maintain a running schedule with a jam packed lifestyle.  Here's my list of tips:
How to Start (and keep) running:

1) Start slow. 

Starting to run too often and too fast will lead to either injury or burn out, neither of which will encourage running for the long term.  Depending on what your fitness level is, you may want to begin with a run/walk method to ease into regular exercise (for example, run 4 minutes, walk one minute, repeat).  Do this for a few weeks and then increase time spent running vs. the time spent walking.    Also, focus on running for a specific amount of time instead of mileage or pace.  Speed and distance will come with time, but establishing a good base is the key to getting there.

2.  Invest in good shoes. 

Running is a fairly minimalist sport - all you really need are shoes and an open road.  However, as all feet aren’t the same, neither are all shoes.  Depending on your feet and how you run, different shoes will help or harm you.  I always recommend going to a specialty running store that provides a gait analysis.  The staff should be able to assess the way you run and recommend a shoe that will work best for you and your running style.  Let’s be real – if your feet don’t feel good, you aren’t going to want to run!  Making sure you have the right shoes for the job will help you stay on the road.

3.  Sign up for a race. 
Knowing that your hard earned money has been spent on a race registration will get you out the door and running – as will the overwhelming desire to not collapse on the course because you didn’t train!   Finding a race with good swag (great shirt/medal) provides an added incentive and thinking of the finish line as you train will keep you going.  The medal around your neck will be worth the effort.  Try this link to find a race near you.

Another great motivational tool is to sign up for a race supporting a cause you believe in.  Raising money for the Leukemia Society through Team in Training has put many runners across the finish line of their first marathon.  Combining running with a cause you are passionate about will make you more likely to see the training through.  Here's a link to just a few of the many races supporting a cause.
4.  Find friends to run with. 
As many of you know,  my friends and I run early in the morning 3 to 4 times a week.   It’s dark.  It’s often rainy.  But I do it consistently and why?  Because I’ve committed to meet my friends and knowing they are outside waiting for me will get me out of my warm bed better than any alarm clock.
Having friends that run also gives running a dual purpose – it’s not just for physical fitness, but a social outlet as well.   I’ve solved a myriad of the world’s problems while commiserating with my sisters on the run.  I look forward to my long weekend runs not only for the running, but for the companionship and company I have during the outing.
If you don’t have any friends who run, check your local running store for a running group that meets regularly.  These groups are usually open to all levels of runners and are a great way to meet like-minded people who will encourage you to keep running.  You might even make some new friends while you are at it!
5.  Setup a training schedule.   
Simply vowing to fit running into your life is not a recipe for consistently doing it (if it were no one would ever have to re-make a New Years resolution!).  Having a schedule will help you stay on track and allow you to see the work you have put in as you progress, further motivating you to continue.  Search online or ask your running friends for a running schedule that will work with your current fitness level and put you on the path to reach your goals.  The Couch to 5K program is an excellent place to start for those with little to no running background.  Other resources like Hal Higdon and Runners World, have training schedules for multiple race distances (5k through Marathon) as well as maintenance plans for running without a race goal in mind.
6.  Reward yourself. 

If all else fails…bribe.  This is my mantra with parenting, and it works for running too.  I’ve heard of people paying themselves for every mile run during a training cycle and rewarding themselves with a shopping spree at the culmination of the race.  It could be something as simple as a coffee with friends after a long run (my personal fave).  Whatever works to motivate you (that you can afford!) use it!
7.  Set Yourself up for Success. 
Schedule your running time when you are most likely to get it done.  For me, this means early morning because I can get it out of the way before the schedule of the day dictates I do other things.  I KNOW that if I don’t get my run done early I will be less likely to fit it in later.   If your best chance is at lunch or after work, then schedule it in.  Make it a part of the routine, not an afterthought that you need to cram in if you have time. Remind yourself that you will never regret a run afterwards…you will only regret it if it doesn’t happen at all.

And finally, my most important tip:
8.  Don't take any of it too seriously and remember to have FUN!

What are your tips to just keep running?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Card games

One of the things I love about running is the simplicity of it - all you need is a pair of shoes and you can walk out the door and start running.  Minimal equipment and easy access are keys for me to stay interested and to keep at something.  Running definitely fits the bill.

But, today I didn't get up to run, and I knew I needed to do something.  I've been teetering on the edge of complete slothdom, and I need to snap out of it!  I wanted something quick and easy that I could do in my living room.  Thanks to Google and my favorite lady Jillian, I found this:
Try this workout (compliments of Bob Harper). Grab a deck of cards and assign four exercises (one for each suite). Burpies for clubs, push ups for spades, squats for hearts, dumbbell rows for diamonds. Then go through the whole deck doing every card as a set of exercises. Good luck!
Perfect, right?  Easy, can be done at home, uses minimal equipment and it's something new!  So, I got my cards, grabbed my 8lb dumbells and set up shop. 

This is my type of equipment list!
 In case her explanation isn't clear - it basically goes like this:  You take the deck, turn the top card over and do that number of whatever exercise is assigned to that suite.  So for a 10 of hearts, I did 10 squats - a 9 of clubs would be 9 burpies, etc. etc.  I made face cards and aces count for 10 as well. I did the exercises as suggested, but added weights to the squats instead of just doing regular ones.

OH.MY.GOD it was hard! 

I actually thought at first that I would go through the deck a couple of times, but once was definitely enough for today. I used to think that I knew what muscle fatigue felt like, but seriously after drawing the 3rd spade card (pushups) in a row towards the end of the deck - my arms completely gave out!  I literally couldn't do any more.  So this means three things - 1) this is a good little workout; 2)  I have definitely lost any strength that I once had; and 3) I need to do this again!

This workout is also really versatile because you can change the exercises to focus on other body parts if you want.  And the element of surprise that comes with drawing the cards is fun (I was totally praying for low numbers at the end of the workout, "no 10's please! How about a 3?".  Anyway, I really enjoyed this quick little workout. 

Let me know if you try it out and what you think about it!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday 5

1)  The crud is creeping in.  Becoming unexpectedly unemployed has thrown me for a loop for sure.  I've been mostly fine, but I am fighting off feeling a little down.  And for me, for some reason, when I'm down my motivation to exercise begins to fade.  It's so dumb.  I mean exercise = endorphins = feeling better, right?  I know this.  But, I get stuck in these ruts where I can't motivate to get it done and I get in this cycle: Don't exercise = feel bad = eat bad = feel even worse...and over and over again.  It just makes no sense.  Logically I know what I need to do to feel better, I just need to make myself do it.  I started today with a 5 mile run and I feel a billion times better than I did yesterday.  Day one of operation feel good!

2) I also signed up for this:
This is the challenge that Amanda at Run to the Finish hosts every year, and I think: "Hmmmm, I really should do that" but I never have.  Well this year I bit the bullet and I registered.  There are great prizes and it looks like lots of fun.  I also am hoping that it will help me be more mindful with my nutrition by tracking fruits/vegetables etc.  I don't think there are points for eating handfuls of goldfish crackers and taking bites of macaroni and cheese from the bottom of the bowl, so I think some positive changes might come of it...

3)  I made this soup the other day - OMG, so good. 
Seriously, for me this is fall food PERFECTION.  So flavorful and yummy - perfect comfort food.  I do recommend doubling the jalapeno though - I like it spicy!
4)  I've never been a high mileage runner in training. My max in my last marathon training was 50 mi/week, and that was only once during the cycle.  I know many people run WAY more than this.  My body just doesn't hold up well with running consecutive days and I think it requires strength training and cross training to stay injury free.   That said, I do want to increase my speed, so I am looking at the "Run Less, Run Faster" plan. 
Curious if anyone has tried this plan and liked it?  My only concern with it is the lack of "free and easy" running in the schedule - everything is for specific times, so I might miss that component.  But, I think my body would like running 3 times a week and cross training on the other days.

5)  And I know I'm a little late to this party but I'm still super excited...
My favorite lady is back on The Biggest Loser!  So excited to watch the show, and the new dynamic that they will include working with overweight kids (who cannot be eliminated) as well. In my opinion, the show hasn't been as good since Jillian left.

Hope you all have a great weekend!  Head on over to Fitness, Health and Happiness for Fitness Friday!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

October in bullets

I saw my friend Been the other day and we had this convo:
Been:  "September 13". 
Me, frantically trying to think of the significance of this date...birthday?  anniversary?  lunch that I missed?...respond with: "huh?" (yes, I'm eloquent)
Been: "It's the last time you posted...get on it". 

So, this is for you Been....

Lots going on in Just Keep Running land - some having to do with running, some not, so let's just do a good old fashioned bullet point post all about October shall we?
  •  Probably this biggest news lately is that I am currently, and unexpectedly, unemployed.  I have had the same job for the last 17 years - but last month, due to some unforseen circumstances, the business shut down and I am now unemployed and looking for work (kinda).  It is scary and exciting at the same time.  I am trying hard to remind myself of the new opportunities that lie ahead, but I often have to keep myself from COMPLETELY FREAKING OUT!  Something will come up though - I've just started looking.
  • I said I was going to do a Hood to Coast post (yes, that little race that was in August) and I haven't finished it yet - but I am so excited that I  got this email yesterday: 
    On behalf of everyone at the 32nd annual Hood To Coast Relay, we sincerely congratulate you on your team's acceptance into the sold-out 2013 event! Your team was one of 1,050 accepted from entries postmarked on "Opening Day", with more than one thousand teams unfortunately turned away.  The Hood To Coast Relay has filled the team limit for the past 22 years!
 I didn't think we would get in (it's getting harder and harder) so I am SUPER excited about getting a spot again for next year!   I jumped on a friend's team this year that had an open spot, and while it was very fun to run with them I'm excited to run with my regular team again next year. 
  • In running news - my foot is holding up very well and I'm working on distance building.  Michelle, my running buddy, is training for the Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World in January so I'm doing the training with her to build my base back up.  In January I will start to work on speed again and pick a race to train for myself.  I just feel like if I push the speed piece before I get my distance and endurance back up I will be asking for an injury once again.  I ran 16 miles last Monday - longest distance to date!  Woo hoo!

  •  I volunteered with my friend Ed at the Portland Marathon in October.  We had a beautiful sunny day and a great spot at Mile 23.  It's so inspirational to see everyone out there and I love giving back to the sport!
    • "Ultima here!  Water next table"
      I think I said this a gagillion times!
  • My kids had their jogathon fundraiser at school.  I've said it before, but I LOVE that our school does something that promotes physical fitness as the major fundraiser of the year.  My son almost met his goal of running 3 miles in half an hour...
      Go Owen go!
     My daughter isn't as into running, but she was all smiles out there and ran/walked a little over a mile:

  • And the other monumental October event - Halloween - was super fun of course.  We had a kind of punk(ish) kitty cat and a vampire in the house
    Which means now we have way too much of this in the house:

    I've definitely been doing my due dilligence and checking it periodically to make sure it's safe.  Yes, yes, I'm such a good mom - safety first, people.

    So that's October in a nutshell!  Thanks for checking in!

    Thursday, September 13, 2012

    Ragnar NW Passage recap

    Well hello there little's been a while, hasn't it?  Since July 30th...wowza I'm a bad blogger.   I actually have some good stuff to write about that I've done during this little hiatus...I've done a couple of relays - Ragnar NW Passage, and Hood to Coast.  And since I can't possibly recap BOTH of these in one post (and I suspect people have read a LOT of Hood to Coast recaps these days) here's my Ragnar recap, and I'll get to Hood to Coast next...and I won't wait a month to do it, I promise!  Oh, and this is going to be LOOOOONG, but it's a long race, right?

    The Ragnar NW Passage runs from Blaine, up by the Canadian border, down to Whidbey Island, WA.  It's a completely beautiful place to run.  We lucked out and had an absolutely gorgeous place to stay at the home of our teammates, Jay and Dawn, on Anacortes.  We drove up the night before the relay and were greeted with this view:
    Seriously - this is the view from the house.  So pretty. 

    So pretty and also very big!  We each had a place to sleep on an actual bed and each bedroom had a shower.   And now for the best part...we got to come back here IN BETWEEN EACH OF OUR LEGS.  I'll let that sink in for a minute...yes, we got to return here between each of our runs.  No sleeping in a field somewhere, or in the van, or in the cold, or not showering.  We got to come here and relax, regroup and then get back in the van to drive to our next exchange.  It was total luxury.  In fact, this trip felt more like a vacation with a little running thrown in than a hard core relay.   Seriously, I felt so spoiled.

    While I would have been perfectly content to just stay at the house, we actually did have to do some running too - so off we went on Friday morning, up to check in on a cold and rainy day. 
    Michelle and I - ready to head out to the start
    Michelle, Mike, Roy, Marjorie, me and Ed  = Van 1
     The check in went smoothly and we waited for the start huddled under the tents...
    Me with Mike and Ed
     and people watching:
    Michelle making friends - love the 'stache and sideburns
    Michelle and the angler fish team

    Michelle and I with Homer - he seriously tried to run in this get up!

    Team at the start
    Our start time was at 10am, and luckily the rain pretty much stopped right before that.  It actually was perfect running weather - overcast and cool.  I was really grateful, because it was the end of July and I hadn't packed rain gear (yes, I live in the Pac NW and should have known better, but the week before had been HOT, so I wasn't prepared).

    This team is comprised of really experienced runners and we've all done lots of relays, so we didn't have any drama or second guessing, we just clicked along making our exchanges.  My running wife Michelle was runner 4 and I was runner 5.  Michelle injured herself about a month before the relay, and was nursing a sore foot/calf the entire time.  She was a trooper though, and always had a smile on her face.

    My first leg was 5.8 miles - rated moderate.  It was my longest run and I always love getting the hardest leg out of the way from the start.
    Mike supporting me and giving me water.  He kept trying to talk to me
    and since I was out of breath from running uphill...I shoved him off the shoulder of the road.
    Yeah, I'm sweet.

    As this was my first race in almost a year and I was still working on getting my speed back, I wasn't sure how my pace or endurance would be.  I told the team I thought I could run 8:30/mile average and I came in on my first leg with an 8:23 avg pace, so I was really happy about that.
    Leg one = DONE!
     After making the exchange with Van 2, we got some pizza and a beer to celebrate our first legs being done.  And then we WENT BACK TO THE HOUSE TO SHOWER AND SLEEP.  Yes, I am yelling.  Yes, that is how awesome this setup was.

    After showering and catching a few Z's we headed out again to meet up with Van 2 to run our 2nd legs.  I was scheduled to run around midnight.  My 2nd leg was 5 miles and easy.  It started with a pretty significant downhill, and then was pretty much flat.  The run went through a little downtown area where I had the pleasure of running by a bunch of bars that were closing down - lots of drunken "whoooo hooooos!"....pretty funny.

    I felt good on this run and averaged an 8:16 pace.  This little teeny girl passed me right out of the gate on the downhill but I almost had her at the end...if my leg had been another half mile long I would've had her!

    After our last runner finished we again WENT BACK TO THE HOUSE TO SHOWER AND SLEEP...again with the yelling, I know, but I just can't get over the luxury of the whole thing. 

    You know what's super awesome about being able to go back home between running (besides the obvious shower/sleep thing I keep yelling about)?  It's that your van isn't filled with a ton of gear!  We didn't have sleeping bags, all our food, all our clothes, etc in tow with us - we actually had room to stretch out.  We would just grab a bag with what we needed for that leg and we were good.  It was so nice!

    We headed out again for our last legs and enjoyed some beautiful scenery along the way:

    Had a little fun:

    van one angels:  me, Michelle and Marjorie
    I was super mature and took pictures of Michelle exiting the port-o-potty:

    I'm sure this random guy was happy I photographed him coming out of the toilet...
    And then there was payback:


    Oh yeah, I suppose we had to run too, huh?  Back to that...Michelle's last leg was super hard - 6.4 miles with two huge hills in it.
    holy hills batman!
    Like I said earlier, she had suffered a calf/foot injury prior to the race, and for this leg in particular, she was worried about finishing.  She ran/walked the whole thing and finished with a smile on her face.  I was so proud of her because I know she didn't want to have someone sub and finish the leg.  She did awesome!

    My last leg was 4.5 miles long, and was rolling hills around this pretty little bay.   I was happy that there were lots of trees because it was starting to get warm out, so I had shade and a nice breeze too.
    The very end of this leg is a nice long downhill until you turn a corner and you have to run straight UP hill to the exchange.  It was kind of brutal - I told a volunteer that I thought it was cruel...but finishing up is a powerful motivator so I brought it in with all I had and ended up looking like this:

    Trying to catch my breath after that last hill.
    I averaged 8:26 on this last leg, which I kind of expected.  I knew the hills would get to me because  I wasn't nearly as hill trained as I would have liked, but I was happy to come in well within my predicted pace.
    We're done!
     After Roy finished up his last leg we went to the local school at the exchange where we were able to shower and clean up.  Instead of going back to the house at this point we decided to go an get lunch in the little town of Coupeville. 

    Then we had a few hours to kill....idle minds delirous after relay running can be a dangerous thing.  We set off in search of a fabric shop....we wanted to buy some faux fur....normal, yes?  Mike had this great idea that we needed to make beards for the team to wear in honor of one of our runners, Jay.

    don't ask me what I'm doing's night...I'm kind of delirious....
     Anyway, this is Jay.  Jay obviously has a great beard, and a great personality to match.  The guy is funny, chill and laid back and also a strong runner.  He and his wife Dawn own the super awesome house where, as you know, WE GOT TO SLEEP AND SHOWER.

    So, we searched around this sleepy little town for a fabric store, to no avail, but found this random little knick knack shop that had a faux fur hat in it.  The lady at the store thought we were crazy when we asked if we could borrow her scissors to cut the hat up.  We plopped down on the curb outside the store and cut that hat up into goatees enough for the team.  Unfortunately I have no pictures of the making of our homage to Jay...but I do have pictures of the end result:
    sexy, yes?
    We headed over to the finish with our creations in tow and waited for our team to come in.  We met up with van 2 and began dispensing the beards throughout the team.  Jay was thrilled...he was like a rock star with all of us wanting photos with him...

    When Heather, our awesome captain, came in on the final leg we slapped a beard on her chin and ran across the finish line.  I'm sure she didn't know what to think, but everyone was having a lot of fun with it.
    Deception Passers - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly = FINISHED!
    After a little time in the beer garden we went back and ate, relaxed and enjoyed our last night in the house of awesomeness.  I didn't want to leave, it was so nice to be with such great people in such a beautiful setting.  It was the most relaxing relay ever!

    We ended up finishing in 29:29, which was good enough for 3rd place in our division (I think there might have only been 4 teams, but who'se counting?).

    This was such a fun relay.  Besides the amazing accomodations, it was also really well organized with the exchanges being super easy to get in and out of, and no congestion at all.  It just made the logistics so easy when we didn't have to worry about when and if we were going to make it in before our runner.

    I was also really happy with how my foot held up and how my running is progressing.  I still am not feeling as fast as I'd like to be, but this was a great test for me, and I'm glad I came out of it with my foot feeling good.

    Anyway, this has been a novel - thanks for reading if you made it all the way through!  Next up - Hood to Coast!  Which is guaranteed to be a shorter recap because I'm an awesome blogger and only took one picture...sigh...

    Head over to Fitness Health and Happiness for Fitness Friday!