Exceed Your Limits!

One Step and One Day at a Time!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Update on Search for the Perfect Shoe and Running Outside of the Box!

Guess what?  I didn't fall off the treadmill.  I did, however, get sized for running shoes.  The whole process was relatively painless, although I have to admit running barefoot on a treadmill where others run barefoot kind of freaked me out.  Basically, the process measures your foot size (apparently I have been sizing my shoes to small!) and evaluating how you distribute weight on your foot and then how your foot performs when running.  There were no major surprises except that while standing still I actually have arches!  When I run, however, I have extreme pronation, which I knew.  So, I am in a stability shoe, and still went with the Asics brand.  I have liked them overall. 

I ran today during lunch, since I slept through my run this morning!  I had planned on running around my office in a few loops of the streets within a half mile.  However, my boss persuaded me not to do that but instead take a 10 minute drive to a safer area that is on Commencement Bay.  Oh, it was glorious.  So beautiful and truly reminded me why I wanted to return to the Northwest - I was so thankful my boss pushed me to think outside the box and actually find a nice spot to run.  And, I did the entire run at my best per mile pace yet!  I bet it is the new shoes, they just make me faster!!!  Actually, it probably has more to do with the fact that I ran 4 miles with people the other night at my training that are faster runners than I and I was able to pace myself with them and see where I needed to be.  Just a bit more improvement and I will get my 5K in under 30 minutes.  I don't think it will happen by the time I do my relay since I have to taper a bit next week.

And, more exciting news - I have my FIRST giveaway coming up - Keep an eye out over the weekend I will put all the details on here, but think: Creative and Healthy Meal planning!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The 5K Run: A Universal Motivator!

I now call a 5K run a universal motivator.  Why?  Well, it is simple - it is a motivator for so many people from varied backgrounds and at varied training levels, and, in my experience, one never regrets whatever 5K event they particpate in.  Here is why I reached this conclusion:

1.  Anyone can do this event.  Seriously, 5Ks are generally low key, stroller and pet friendly, and a lot of people WALK.  Now, you need to check all this out when you see an event you are interested in and if it doesn't fit for you, I am willing to bet you can find another 5K event that same day in your area that is a fit for you!  Walk, run, or walk/run and you are moving - every step counts and it is a great start to becoming more active or even, gulp, a runner!

2.  If you want to train to run a 5K there are lots of FREE options!  First, if you have tennis shoes in a reasonably good condition, some pants you can move in, and a road/field/sidewalk/whatever you can train for a 5K.  I know people who train for 5K's at the mall, in their neighborhood, at a lakeside trail, or strictly on a treadmill where NO ONE can see them!  You can also search for training plans that take you from the couch to a 5K in small baby steps.  Google "Couch to 5K" and you will find hundreds of free plans.  One free plan I found and like is this free plan at Beginnertriathlete.com.  Are you a tech junkie?  I know people doing a Couch to 5K training program (C25K) on their iphones and ipods, and probably a million other tech gadgets I don't own.  Googling "C25K podcast" or "C25K android" produced results, but I can't speak as to their value.  As I understand it the program will run while you listen to music and will tell you when to run and when to walk over a specified period of time taking you through workouts that incorporate longer and longer bursts of running over a series of weeks until you are running the whole thing (or almost the whole thing).  I wish I had an iphone or ipod!  And then I wish I had the time to learn how to use it!

3.  5K events are often and cheap!  Registering for a 5K is really inexpensive compared to other events.  Many events are twenty dollars or less, or are available by fundraising for a particular charity.  And, 5K events, at least in my area, are available (in multiples) EVERY weekend!  If you need help finding an event, you can just search on 5K and your town, or look on sites that are used for registering for such events like Active.com.  You can also look in your local paper, browse the bulletin board at your local sports equipment stores, or just ask someone at your gym.  Many running oriented sports retailers have free fun runs on the weekends as well.  One such store in my neighborhood is Roadrunner Sports

4.  Even if you are training for or running longer events or multisport events, a 5K event mixes up training and adds race day elements to your training.  By adding a 5K event into your training, you can find race day motivation to push harder and just have FUN, which can be sometimes hard to do as you push toward increased endurance levels.  Furthermore, during rest weeks or taper weeks in your training they can add some spice when you are frustrated by having to hold yourself back.  I was talking last night with an individual who was on a taper week in preparation for this weekend's Ford Ironman Coeur d'Alene.  He was antsy to race and antsy about his taper week of training, but grinned as he said he PR'd his 5K this week.  Even at his level of training a 5K was a fun and motivational element in his taper week.  Furthermore, if you are struggling to reach a new pace level, like I am, running with others in a 5K race can allow you to mentally mark that higher pace for yourself so you can implement that pace in your training. 

So, if you are looking to begin a more active lifestyle, but just need that one thing to help you take that first step, whether it be walking or running, I challenge you to look into a 5K event!  Or, step back from your focus on longer events and spice up your training with a 5K event and you may add a new PR of your own!  And, if you are so inclined, tell me about it here and keep me posted on how it all works out! 

ALSO, if you are using a C25K app, as I know a few of my readers are, and can offer your review of the app, please share your views and recommendations in a comment or via email so I can share them on the blog!

And just a reminder, tomorrow I will fill everyone in on how my search for my perfect running shoe transpired and whether I fell off the treadmill at the store!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Search for the Perfect Running Shoe!

I need new running shoes.  I have always been a buy the sale shoe off the shelf kind of gal.  I think I need to perhaps move beyond that practice.  So, I am reluctantly going to go to my favorite running store Roadrunner Sports to get fitted for running shoes.  Why am I reluctant?  Well, they make you run on a treadmill in the middle of the store.  I am that self-conscious!  I get butterflies just writing about it - how ridiculous is that!  I will be running in less than two weeks in front of a whole bunch of spectators at a race, and then two weeks later in one of the most festive race weekends in Washington!  I better get over that whole issue soon!

I know finding the right shoe is priceless.  I found a great shoe by chance, which has made running a whole lot easier.  I do think I can do even better if I get a formal fitting, particularly since I have very flat feet and week joints, so good shoes are absolutely necessary.  Best of all, the evaluation is free (well, in terms of dollars, not irrational stress!).  Now, bear in mind, I expect I will need to talk the person down into my budget range, but that is ok, it is a moderate budget for new shoes.

Even better, my local store at Kent Commons has ladies night Thursday night!  Come out and join in on the fun.  VIP members get 20% off and they are promising GREAT giveaways! 

I will update everyone on how the shoe hunt and fit go - please send any "don't fall on the treadmill in front of all those people" vibes my way! 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Looking for GREAT gear deals? Check out the new daily deal site from Active.com

I was forwarded this a few days ago and hadn't shared yet.  Active.com, a site many use to register for activities such as fun runs, races, etc and which is a great resource for ALL types of information on exercise, activities, and even nutrition, now has a daily deal site similar to Groupon!  They recently had a deal on triathlon clothing (which, dear Husband, if you are reading I DID pass on - I promise, no more training clothes except for......).  Today's deal caught my eye because I could use some swim stuff - check it out - this a great deal and I LOVE TYR swim equipment and suits for swim workouts. 

Check out Active.com's Daily Schwaggle and let me know what you think!


Monday, June 20, 2011

What I learned on my blog vacation!

It has once again been some time since I wrote here.  It has all been for fantastic reasons.  I have so many things I want to post and have been collecting a whole laundry list of items/ideas/information/resources that, frankly, I just don't know where to start.  I think I will start with just a recap of all I have learned the past 11 or so days.

Training with a friend (or even a stranger) is far superior to winging it by yourself.  I was fortunate enough to be included on an invite to swim with a group of awesome ladies at our local lake.  I had just gotten my new wetsuit and wanted desperately to get in the water but, for obvious safety reasons, didn't want to go by myself.  I jumped at the chance to swim with a group of experienced triathletes when that chance arrived at my inbox.  It was a fantastic experience.  We didn't swim far, but I got in the water, built confidence, and learned I could tolerate the cold (the water was somewhere around 59 degrees).  In addition to that, I met some wonderful people, gained some training partners, AND found myself registered as a two person relay team for an early race!

Then, this past Sunday, I set out for my brick workout by myself.  For those that don't know, a brick workout ties two sports together in sequence, the bike and run, and it lovingly termed the brick for that oh so lovely feeling in your quads as you switch from the bike to the run and the body fights to transfer blood out of the quads to the hamstrings and other valuable run muscles.  So as I set off for my 14 mile bike and then run I was actually dreading it.  Separately, they are fine - well, I LOVE the bike and tolerate the run (have I mentioned I am not a runner?  HA!), but transitioning is dreadful until your legs adjust.  About three minutes into my bike, I was entering an intersection and turned around to see a bike behind me.  Quickly I moved right thinking "where did they come from and did I just swerve into their path?"  As I was about to offer an apology I was met with a "Hi!"  I looked to see a rider wearing the same jersey as I was wearing, our team uniform!  She was out for her long ride and, long story short, we rode 7 miles together before my turnaround.  It was great, I shaved 4 minutes off my split time and got some great advice from a seasoned triathlete.  She had quite a story and long list of impressive accomplishments.  I was so thankful for her company and she left me with a lot of great things to think about on the remainder of my ride and my run.  It was by far my best brick workout.  One of the fringe benefits to wearing the uniform (and, for me, my ONLY long sleeved bike jersey) for a workout!

Even though swimming is easy on the joints and they say you can do it every day, three swim workouts in a row can throw my body way off.  On my plan, my typical swim days are Monday and Wed, with an occasional additional day, but not in sequence, thrown in.  So, last week I did my Monday workout (1300m in the pool) and then got the great chance to swim in the lake (see above!).  So, out I went on Tuesday night to swim.  We are not exactly sure of the distance, we *maybe* swam a 1/4 mile, so 400m?  It wasn't a distance type of workout, but rather acclimation.  Wednesdays are my coached workouts, which through last week were only swim workouts.  So, Wednesday night I headed to my coached swim which was a rough week.  I lost count at 1200m as to the distance and was getting my behind kicked in the workout.  Our final set were sprints against our lane partners.  I had been experiencing some minor cramping in my right foot, but that had subsided and although I was tired, I joked with my lane partner that he had better watch it because with fins my kick alone would power me through (we had put on fins as a means to mix it up for the sprints and focus on our arm strokes in a sprint situation).  So as the coach sent us off, I did a strong push of the wall and WHAM! - massive cramp in my left calf.  I kept swimming only to be in excruciating pain, and humbled by being beat by a full body length, at the wall.  And, in the true spirit of not wanting to look like a total idiot, I set up for the next sprint and did the same thing - the cramp just kept getting worse and worse.  By the time I finished the second sprint I was in tears and afraid I wouldn't even make it out of the pool without help.  With some stretching, however, I sheepishly swam 100m of breaststroke to move the muscles a bit to help with lactic acid buildup and got out.  Thankfully that was the end of our hour workout.  After a little nutrition and electrolyte lecture from my coach, along with the realization that perhaps three swim workouts in a row might not be the best idea, I literally limped home.  I also had the joy of waking up the next morning with a lot of soreness in my whole body. 

I need a little help and supplementation for adequate nutrition.  I hate sports drinks.  I hate the perception that in order to perform well you have to buy these expensive engineered products to guzzle, gulp, mix, and pop in your mouth to complete a workout or race.  I just don't didn't believe in the whole sports nutrition industry.  That was until my massive cramp episode and further research.  I still, frankly, believe that in most cases, for recreational athletes, most of the stuff on the market is crap unnecessary.  [but, read my disclaimer!  LOL]  I am leery of products until I learn more about their content and how much sugar/fructose is jammed into the drink/powder/gel/chew/pill.  But, for me, the bottom line is I don't think I can eat enough to provide some of the needs my body has.  First, I am still breastfeeding my huge baby boy.  I sometimes work long and crazy days, which can cause me to skip snacks and, on the very rare occasion, lunch.  I have also significantly increased my activity level over the past few months and built lean muscle mass that has higher demands for energy.  I also have a history of low sodium levels and have increased, dramatically, the amount of water I drink (for example, on a light workout day, I still consume 120-140 oz of water a day!)  So, nutrition right now is a crap shoot for me.  The cramping and other issues I have had (cravings, unusual fatigue, headaches) have led me to believe my nutrition needs to be re-balanced (and, no, I am not expecting a 4th baby!).  I am working on it through research and trial and error with some nutrition products designed for consumption during workouts.  I was recently provided with some samples of gels, chews, drinks and the like.  I tried them these last two weekends on my longer workouts with decent results, but not anything I can say is proof they work (although if you can get past the "snot like" consistency and fructose, Powerbar's chocolate gel is YUMMY!).  I am still hoping to learn some tricks that will allow me to provide the missing elements with whole foods, but that will take some time to "test drive."

There will always be Negative Nellies, critics, and those that, well, just would love to see you fail.  No matter what I do I have to realize there will be people in my life, whether I want them there or not, who will not have well wishes for me or my success.  It is a fact of life, one I cannot change.  It is not an indicator of a fault of mine, nor is it an indicator of their faults.  It JUST IS.  I need to remember to employ the patience and tolerance I try to instill in others around me when I hear them talk ill of others.  I always try to look at it from the other person's position, be in the other person's shoes.  In the case of those that are negative about my pursuits, goals, passions, or general lifestyle, I need to do the same thing and realize that they are never going to understand or be able to stand in my shoes and "get" my life.  While it appears they don't want to even attempt to just "leave it alone" because it would take away what appears to be a source of entertainment/amusement/gratification they get from remaining negative or judging me, I need to be the bigger person and just ignore it.  It is an energy suck.  They haven't been in my shoes, nor I in theirs, and they have no idea of the full suite of elements of my life, nor I of theirs.  The result is two-fold:  give them a break because they are not fully informed, and don't take it as true (the opinions or criticisms they put forth) because, well, they are not fully informed.  Basically, give them a break and give myself a break and just block it out - it is unnecessary noise.

Focusing some thought energy on those I admire is priceless.  I have been thinking a lot about people I admire.  For a variety of reasons, one of which is blog related, but mostly because I have been hearing about so many great things going on in my friends' lives.  Two families I know recently finalized their Forever Families after a long and uncertain time.  One friend has been committed to becoming more active in their lifestyle with things that interest them and their family and has successfully lost a whole bunch of weight, inches, and sizes!  Another friend trained for and ran a Warrior Dash and just appeared to have the greatest experience!  Another friend has lost 114lbs in less than one year and accomplished amazing fitness goals!  The list just goes on and on.  Thinking of my friends successes, their patience, their endurance, the unending perseverance has been priceless for my spirit and my strength!

I really would LOVE for people to share their ideas on topics I write about on this blog.  I know I can learn from those that read this blog, and I KNOW many of you are people I admire so I invite you to join in, even if you disagree with me.  It is all about learning for me, broadening my horizons, and hopefully providing at least one thing for someone to think about, ponder, or try!