How to sabotage your race results: Part 1 – Training

My friend, Running Lonely, and I were recently discussing the ways in which runners (OK….WE) sabotage our races.  While I am more adept at killing my race during training, M has more patience and is able to wait until race day to do all his damage.  So we started thinking that maybe we should share our insights so that newbie runners (all runners, really) can learn from our mistakes.  (We fully realize newbie runners probably won’t learn from our mistakes, because, let’s face it: they are like teenagers who just got a driver’s license and they know more than we do.)    Part 2 will be posted tomorrow on Running Lonely’s Blog.

  1. Training pace:
    1. Never listen to the “experts” who want you to pace long runs at 1-2 min slower than your realistic race pace; instead pace all your runs at (desired race pace – :30).
    2. Why train at all? It’s SO time consuming, especially for distances over 13.1.  Just show up at the start line on race day.
    3. Drink 5 Monsters before your run. The caffeine will help you maintain your pace.  Take it from me – even GU Roctane is weak where caffeine is concerned.
  2. Strength training:
    1. Do not strength train.   Every moment spent strength training is a moment of running lost.
    2. Do you even need upper body strength anyway? Have you ever stopped for pull-ups during a marathon?  I rest my case.
    3. Forget the squats. It isn’t all about that base.  The Kim Kardashian trend will change and you will be ready and waiting with your tiny ass.
  3. Training plan:
    1. Write your own training plan….because running coaches clearly don’t understand your need for runs with “badassery”.
    2. Use the “more must be better” method: pick a training plan, but double everything.
    3. Find a training plan that best suits you. Then put each run on a sheet of paper, throw it all in a hat and each day draw a piece of paper from the hat and that will be your run.
  4. Rest:
    1. Clearly rest is for the weak, so any rest days are to be discouraged…unless you want your Twitter followers to secretly laugh at you.
    2. Take “accumulated fatigue” to an entirely new level and run twice per day – every day.
    3. Pulling an all-night GOT-watching marathon is encouraged the night before your long run.
  5. Self-massage:
    1. Don’t drink the foam rolling Kool-Aid. The “experts” are merely marketing geniuses trying to sell foam rollers.  Clearly they are getting a kick-back from foam roller sales.  Have you seen the prices of those things?
    2. Have you ever wondered HOW foam rolling can be beneficial? WHY would you want to feel like a hot dog at 7-Eleven?
    3. Foam rolling is clearly a form of masochism. Unless you want to be lumped in with Christian Grey, it should be avoided at all costs.  (OK….I know some of you like the sound of this one…..if you are one of those people, use a Theracane instead.)

      Marsden SWEARS this is actually works.  Looks more like a medieval torture device to me.
      Marsden SWEARS this is actually works. Looks more like a medieval torture device to me.
  6. Fueling your runs:
    1. Cadbury eggs make the best run fuel. Canadians will tell you to use maple syrup but I find it difficult to carry the container on runs.
    2. Spicy thai food before your long run will help your stomach adjust to the rigors a marathon puts your digestive system through.
    3. Forget run fuel. Your body needs to learn to burn fat as a fuel source.  Plus, without fuel you can experience hitting the wall on every run, which will prepare you for the inevitable on race day.
  7. Listening to your body:
    1. KT Tape fixes EVERYTHING.
    2. Drinking beer every mile will not only serve as fuel with the perfect carb:protein ratio, once you get to mile 10 you won’t care that your ITB is giving you fits and your knee is screaming.
    3. If you feel you may have injured yourself, DO NOT SEEK MEDICAL TREATMENT! Do not stop running. First, consult Twitter.  If you can’t find diagnosis and rehab on there, then Google should be able to solve the problem.
  8. Tapering
    1. If tapering is so good for you, why are we not doing it all the time?
    2. Taper spelled backwards is Repat, which is basically Repeat, which means you should repeat your hardest runs.
    3. You carb load during taper, why aren’t you run loading?

Hopefully these tips from #teamsabotage will help keep you running strong.  Or not.

Jen

 

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Keep moving forward: A tattoo story

Something happened this weekend.  Almost 2 years of searching, debating, contemplating and discussing culminated in finally settling on a tattoo, then losing my tattoo virginity.

Wayyyyy back when I was training for my first marathon, I decided that I wanted to get a tattoo to commemorate my accomplishment.  I spent a lot of time during training trying to decide what I wanted and where it would go.  Of course, the race was cancelled due to a freakish ice storm, aka Icepocalypse, which bought me time to decide.

I looked off and on throughout the year, finding things from time to time that spoke to me, yet never finding something that I felt confident I could put on my body and be happy to see there 20 years down the road.  I wanted a tattoo that spoke about running, but, then again, deep down inside, I wanted something more meaningful.  I didn’t take lightly putting something PERMANENTLY on my body.  So the marathon that I actually ran came and went, and I was no closer to finding “THE tattoo” than I ever had been.

I finally decided a few weeks ago that it was time.  I just knew it in my gut….and I always trust my gut.  You see, a couple months ago, around MLK day, I started thinking that “Keep Moving Forward” might be the tattoo for me.  Still, I wanted to wait and let the idea simmer and percolate for a while.  And recently, the idea had matured and blossomed into something that I was comfortable living the rest of my life with.

I LOVE Martin Luther King, Jr. and all of his quotes.  But I especially love the one (that I chose) that runners often quote, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”  So it does have a connection to runners and running.  And it had a connection to my marathon.  First, I trained for this marathon TWICE.  Then, with my ITB injury, finishing was a mental and physical challenge, but throughout the race, I kept moving forward.  During the last 8 miles when every single step was so painful, quitting was never an option.  So the quote gave me a real, emotional tie to my marathon, which totally commemorates the race!

This quote speaks to me on so many other levels, though.  Most of you who know me or who have read my blog much know that I lost my dearest friend 11 years ago.  That was the biggest and most monumental life test I have ever experienced.  To say moving forward was a challenge would be a gross understatement.  I didn’t want to move forward….I didn’t even understand how I could go on; how I could live.  I was so devastated.  My heart was smashed into a thousand pieces.  But I did go on.  And I did live….even if at first I just went through the motions, but I was doing.  Little by little, moving forward took a bit less effort.  The sparkle slowly returned to my eyes (but not completely until I found running).  In all honesty, this tattoo is as much (in reality, MORE) about Allison as it will ever be about my marathon.  Every time I look at it, I will be reminded that I am NOT a quitter and I CAN overcome whatever life throws my way.  It isn’t lost on me that Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of Allison’s favorite people of all time.  In fact, Kaitlynn recited MLK’s “I Have A Dream” speech for the Princess contest one year.  Every time I look at this work of art on my body, I’ll know she is with me.

Of course, it is also a reminder that there are injustices in this world that still must be remedied.  Our society STILL discriminates against anyone and everyone who doesn’t quite look like the majority or think like the majority.  And for a liberal hippy-trippy like me, this tattoo will be a constant reminder that we must fight back against the ignorance and hatred to keep moving forward.  We must put aside our differences and treat each other like human beings, regardless of the color of one’s skin, one’s religion, or sexual orientation.  People are people.  Period. (And while I’m at it….why am I considered a “liberal” person just because I feel people should be treated equally?  I don’t understand why that is such a far-fetched thought.)

Finally, this tattoo speaks to my faith.  It’s no secret that I identify myself with the progressive faith community.  I hope that my actions speak to the fact that my main concern is acting justly, loving kindness and walking humbly with my God.  (By the way, Micah 6:8 is my favorite Bible verse 🙂 ) I (we) can’t rest until everyone is treated justly and with kindness and dignity.  Until then, I will keep moving forward and doing what I can, where I can, when I can.

As for the placement of the tattoo, that has a significance as well.  I had it placed on my left forearm.  I wanted it on my arm so that I could see it everyday.  When this idea originally came to mind, I imagined it somewhere on my foot.  As my ideas evolved, I realized that I needed to be able to see it.  But my left side….my left side is my weak side – the side prone to injury.  I needed it to be on the weaker side because I need to focus on that side in order to be whole…as a runner specifically.

Last weekend, Alli accompanied me (I TRIED to get her to stay home) when I went in to make the appointment and put the deposit down.  On the way, Alli said, “What if you have surgery on the spot where you get this tattoo?  Will they be able to put it back right?”  Only Alli would see that angle!  I had to admit, it was something to think about!

So the date had been set and a good friend accompanied me so that she could lose her tattoo virginity as well.  Of course, having never had a tattoo, we had NO CLUE what to expect!  Luckily, Taylor came with us so she could get a second tat (and keep us straight).

We have friends that own Homestead Winery (in the metropolis of Ivanhoe, Texas) who have a tasting room in Denison.  We decided to make a stop there since Taylor had never been.  Of course, Taylor is taking full advantage of being 21 and looks for these “opportunities” whenever and wherever they arise.  We tasted just enough wine to take the edge off, then were on our way.

May I say that Orange Muscat was pretty yummy.  I came home with a bottle of that!
May I say that Orange Muscat was pretty yummy. I came home with a bottle of that!

We talked to our artist about what we wanted and he set off to draw them up.  Aaaaaand the first draft didn’t work for me.  If you know me, you know that I try to be tactful (most of the time) because I don’t want to unnecessarily hurt someone’s feelings.  Well, I HATED that first sketch.  As I was trying to formulate in my mind how to break it to the guy, Taylor said, “MOM, just tell him you don’t like that one! Don’t get one you don’t like!!”  (OK, for the record, I was NOT going to get something I didn’t like….I was just trying to let him down gently!)  So we discussed again what I wanted and when he came back the second time, I was ready to marry it!

Surprisingly, I was not nervous at all before, during or after.  (I’m sure it had NOTHING to do with the wine tasting prior!)  I was a bit anxious, but I think that was just me, ready to git’er done!

The actual inking took no time at all and wasn’t THAT painful.  However, it was a little painful and my friend was ready and waiting to capture the moment!

I am not smiling.  I am gritting my teeth.
I am not smiling. I am gritting my teeth.
This was in no way as painful as running on shot ITBs.  "#justsaying
This was in no way as painful as running a mara on shot ITBs. “#justsaying

And before I knew it, I was done!

Keep Moving Forward
Keep Moving Forward

It’s no secret that I usually eat as healthy as I possibly can, but after this experience, we went for some comfort food!heart attack on a plate

Yes, I ate most of this.  I also had a strawberry daiquiri that I had been looking SO forward to, but it was a terrible disappointment.  It wasn’t sweet at all and mostly rum! (OK….I love rum! So not going to complain about that!!)

And here I sit, roughly 24 hours later, happier with it than I could ever have imagined.  I am SO glad that I finally bit the bullet and had it done!

Happy Monday, everyone!

Jen

 

Rolling on the Diagonal

If this doesn't make your stomach do flips, then you clearly aren't Texan.
If this doesn’t make your stomach do flips, then you clearly aren’t Texan.

I’m always thinking (stop snickering….the Apocalypse hasn’t happened…yet).  Driving Alli back and forth to volleyball practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays gives me even more time to think!  What I was thinking about Thursday night was how I tend to put a positive spin on everything.  Now, that doesn’t mean that I don’t see the challenges in situations – it’s just my personality to try to find the #silverlining (or #goldlining, if it is especially amazing!).  And I’ve been doing that with running.

Running has been going REALLY, REALLY well.  But it hasn’t been all roses.  I don’t like sharing the less than great stuff because I don’t want to seem like a complainer.  And I guess part of the reason I don’t like to talk about the thorns is because every runner is ALWAYS dealing with one issue or another.  It’s just the nature of our sport.  Hamstrings tight?  You focus on the hamstrings with extra foam rolling and stretching maintenance and are so proud of yourself for working through the issue.  You consider throwing a party to celebrate your happy hammies, but realize that sometime during the hammy episode your calves became as tight as guitar strings.

It’s no secret that my ITBs are tight.  ALWAYS tight.  I wonder sometimes if that is my cross to bear as a runner.  I’m doing all the right things: strength exercises, self-massage, stretching, and workouts that aren’t too advanced for this stage in my base building.  (OK….now that I have a partner who isn’t afraid to tell Crazy Jen ‘NO’, my workouts are appropriate.)  So I’ve been focusing A LOT on my ITBs.  I haven’t been satisfied with the results of the foam rolling and have known that something had to change.  I have known that I was making ZERO progress.  All this focus on my ITBs caused a slip in my attention to the rest of my legs, mainly my quads.  I began to realize about 10 days ago that my quads were stuck.  (And when your quads are stuck, your ITB will be as well.)  Like fused together.  Not good.  And foam rolling hurt.  I don’t remember foam rolling my quads ever hurting before.  So I’ve been rolling on the meat grinder until I get over the urge to scream.

Trust me.  It HURTS.
Trust me. It HURTS.

Luckily, Wednesday I had to take off to be home while we had a new AC unit installed.  And even luckier (#goldlining), my myofascia guy had an appointment open late in the afternoon and I was able to go see him as well.  He worked my tight left glutes (did I mention my glutes are always tight as well?  It isn’t always a good thing to have a tight ass.).  He released my ITBs.  Then he got to my quads.  He didn’t say a word.  NOT ONE WORD.  And since I’m uncomfortable with awkward silences,  I said, “Ummm, my quads are stuck, aren’t they? ”  And his reply? He just nodded his head.  They were THAT bad!!  But he was able to tear all those fibers loose in no time flat and within the hour, I felt like a new runner!

Something interesting that we discussed was the proper technique for foam rolling your ITB.  I have been rolling the “seam” of my ITB where it meets the quads in the front and hamstrings on the back.  However, I had the foam roller perpendicular to my leg.  Steve said that the only way to break the fibers loose, like he does during a release, is to have the foam roller on a diagonal to the leg.  It sounds easy in theory, but practice is an entirely different matter.  If you aren’t careful and apply plenty of counter resistance, your leg won’t stay straight and will go with the foam roller.  I used the foot on my free leg to leverage and pull my body so that the leg being foam rolled would stay in the proper position.  I could feel the difference right away!  It takes a lot more energy and focus than I generally expend during foam rolling, but I am hoping to keep those cross fibers from forming with this new maneuver.  He also mentioned that if your adductors are tight, it can cause a chain reaction that ends up in your ITB being angry.  So stretch those adductors, people!

I genuinely believe that there will NEVER be a time that I am not giving some TLC to one body part or another.  I would go as far to say that it is a mathematical impossibility.  Too many factors are at play and the top two are: over 40 and distance running.  And I am OK with that.  Because since my injury some amazing things have happened.  I have learned somewhere along the way that I don’t need to panic over every ache and pain.  I simply need to manage it wisely: scale back training when necessary and proper maintenance.  Any of my runner friends that know me realize what a huge accomplishment this really is.

And now, because I am FOREVER the optimist, I will leave you with a list of positives – things that I have been able to successfully work through in order to get to this stage in training today:

  • Tight hips:  OK, YES, I said my hips/glutes are still tight, but I’m talking left hip wouldn’t move because it was fused to my SI joint.  I did have a little help from my myofascia guy, but I have been able to keep them fairly loose since.
  • Stirrup muscle weakness:  I was beginning to have some major issues with my stirrup muscles (the muscles on the outside of calf that wrap under the foot), and their insertion at the ball of my foot.  A shoe switch is the biggest game changer, but I gave this area A LOT of extra care and attention and all of it paid off.
  • Tight calves: Ugh.  I’ve never had calf issues, but lately my calves have been so tight.  LOTS of stretching and foam rolling seems to have gotten this problem in check (for now).
  • Lats:  My lats on my left side have been sooooo tight! Tight enough that twisting my torso had been almost painful.  The entire muscle was tight from my lower back all the way to my shoulder blades.    That is terrible, people!!  I started yoga about a month ago and almost all that back tension is gone!  To further prove my point, my massage therapist was so surprised last week when she found no knots in my neck or back….she commented on how unusual that was!  I am still fighting some tightness down by my pelvis, but farther up the muscle is finally feeling OK.
  • Glutes:  My glutes are always tight, but they do not feel like bricks.  So I’m #winning

Happy Friday, All!!

Jen