Thankful Thursday: Run Edition

Since it’s Thankful Thursday, I figured I would share some things that I didn’t appreciate before becoming a runner.

  • Sunrise/Sunset: I know lots of non-runners appreciate sunrise/sunset.  I was never one of them.  I discovered that something magical happens when you are out on the road, especially at sunrise. beautiful sunrise
  • Motorists giving pedestrians the right of way:  After having more close calls than I can count, I truly appreciate those drivers who do watch out for pedestrians/runners/cyclists.
  • Vaseline:  One word: chafe.   I know that a lot of runners swear by Body Glide, but I can never get enough on to save my skin.  But I can slather an unlimited amount of Vaseline on an area, if I so choose and it works REALLY well!
  • Sweat:  Sweat is awesome!!!  I never really enjoyed sweating until I started running.  I now wear it as a badge of honor.
  • Injuries/Injured:  Before I was injured (OK this was AFTER becoming a runner), I would shake my head when I heard an athlete was sitting out for a cranky hamstring or pulled groin muscle.  NO MORE.  Any little hitch completely changes the way your body moves and compensates.   I have a healthy respect for anyone who battles any kind of injury, no matter how small it may seem.
  • KT Tape:  KT Tape really makes everything better!

    When someone else tapes me, I feel like a 'real' runner.  It's like I have people.
    This was my marathon taping, courtesy of my myofascia guy.
  • Ice/Epsom Salt Baths:  I never thought I would say that I had taken an ice bath.  And yes, they are as miserable as they sound, but the suffering is worth it for those amazing quads!  Epsom salt baths are much more tolerable, because….they are hot!
  • Shoes: The right shoes can change your whole world.  It is not OK to just run to Academy and grab the first pair ofNikes you like on the shelves.  Vanity has no place when choosing a running shoe.

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    I ran in Asics FOREVER but recently switched to Newtons and, boy, have they improved my running!
  • THE right fuel combination:  Most distance runners understand the difficulty in finding the right fuel combination to get you through your training and races without, errr, having GI “issues”.  Before I ran, I never even knew that runners would fuel during runs, mainly because I had never cared enough to think about it.
  • The feeling after a long run, or any run for that matter:  It is impossible to describe how happy one can feel after running 20 miles.  There is a level of fatigue that is indescribable, yet the feeling of contentment is beyond words.  And: chocolate milk.
  • Importance of proper hydration/diet:  Again, pre-runner Jen was never concerned with getting the recommended amount of water/fluids each day.  However, being dehydrated can kill your workout.  Along those same lines, so can crappy food.  I’ve also learned that a couple of glasses of wine and/or spicy food the night before a run can cause issues that my non-runner friends don’t want to read about (reference fuel combos).  Proper hydration and diet make such an impact on how your runs turn out.
  • Everything compression is da bomb:  I am now a BIG believer in compression attire.  Everyone in my little town knows me by my pink compression socks.  The compression shorts were a harder sell for me, because initially I was self-conscious, but they are so awesome that now I don’t care what anyone thinks! (Although I STILL get the stares when I run into Wal-Mart post-run.)
  • Becoming and early riser:  I used to HATE getting up early (early = before 7 AM).  I would drag out of bed every morning for work and on the weekends would groan when I had to get up for my kids’ sporting events.  However, I now get up at 4:45 EVERY DAY and sleeping until 6:30 on the weekend is late (I blame early morning runs and races for this).  And the funny thing?  I actually enjoy it.
  • Hills:  Going up a hill in a car is no big deal.  Going up a hill on foot or on a bike is a really big deal.  I love the challenge.  More so on foot than on a bike, but it’s an awesome feeling to battle through and win!
  • Community of Runners:  Runners stick together.  And since there aren’t many runners in my hometown, I have developed some genuine friendships with runners all across the country, thanks to Twitter.  I know, I would have thought it crazy and impossible as well.  But I appreciate the support us runners give each other.
  • Loving ME:  I have always been a firm believer that working hard makes you appreciate things more.  I approached this more from taking pride in my work and teaching my kids the value of hard work.  But it wasn’t until I started running that it spilled over into my body image.  Before running, I didn’t really “like” myself or my body.  Something was always wrong.  Now, I’m still pretty hard on myself as far as expectations go, but I have grown to truly love who I am inside and out.  I love my body – not because I’m skinny, but because I never realized how strong I could actually become.  I never realized the hell I could put it through and come out stronger on the other side.  It’s a wonderful thing to know these legs can carry me 26.2 miles!

What are you thankful for today?
Happy Thursday!!

Jen

Fun Friday Q and A

I’ve noticed several bloggers have been doing Q&A posts recently, so I figured now is as good of a time as ever to answer some of those burning questions that I know are keeping you up at night!

1. How long have you been running and why/how did you start?  I have been running for 4 years.  The catalyst for my transition to a healthier lifestyle was seeing my fat arms in a picture that was taken from behind.  Nevermind that I had a muffin top and needed to lose 15 pounds, I was worried about the arm fat!  I started making healthier food choices almost immedately and started running with a Couch 2 5K program within a couple of weeks.  I ditched C25K when I had to walk for 5 min after running 8.  I figured it was easier to keep going….and I haven’t stopped since!  (Except for the stupid ITB injury, but I’m not going to mention that)

2.  Which Jen likes hills?  And why do you name them?  First, both Jens LOVE hills.  (If you are unfamiliar, I have a split personality: Crazy Jen and Sane Jen)  The bigger the hill, the better.  And, for the record, I’ve only named one hill… I affectionately call my “go-to” hill “Old Friend”.  (When I’m on my way to the hill, anway.  When I am 3/4 of the way up Old Friend, I usually say words that I hope other people don’t hear.)

Old Friend.  84' increase in .44 mile.  Making my mouth water just thinking about it!
Old Friend. 84′ increase in .44 mile. Can’t wait until I tackle this ‘friend’ again!

3.  If you could live anywhere other than Texas, where would it be?  I would not, could not live anywhere else.  So, if living in another state is required, I respectfully request to be taken out to the back 40 and put down like a lame horse.  Just make sure I’m buried in Texas!

Ain't Texas.  'nough said.
Ain’t Texas. ‘nough said.

4.  What is this obsession with peanut butter?  Peanut butter is quite possibly the most wonderful substance ever invented by man and is even better when paired with honey (God bless the bees!)  I consumed an inhuman amount of PB & honey during marathon training.  Even though I’m not 26.2 training these days, I still consume an inhuman amount of peanut butter.  This has, no doubt, been a big contributor to the 4 extra pounds I’m carrying around these days.

No caption needed.  This is greatness.
No caption needed. This is greatness.

5.  If you’re from Texas, why the hell don’t you own cowboy boots?!?!  I have owned cowboy boots, just not currently.  Even though I AM a die-hard Texan, I don’t pull off the ‘cowgirl look’ very well.  I can, however, pull off the ‘runner look’ without a hitch.

6.  What do you have against summer sausage?  Basically, if I have difficulty eating meat that has been ground up, mixed with mystery ingredients and shoved into a casing.  I have a similar aversion to bologna, weiners and the like.

Threw up in my mouth just looking at this pic!
Threw up in my mouth just looking at this pic!

7.  Why did you lock Crazy Jen up and throw away the key?  Crazy Jen caused a hitch in my get-along during marathon training.  Crazy Jen does things like: runs every long run at race pace, sets PBs during training, doesn’t strength train, doesn’t cross train, pushes through a run 6 miles after ITB starts hurting.  Just to name a few…  Let’s just hope I don’t lose my mind and go dig through the landfill to retrieve the key.

8.  Are crazy cupcakes for Crazy Jen?  Of course not!! All the Jens love all the cupcakes!  However, even Crazy Jen would prefer to avoid another Caramel Crack Cupcake debacle.

My "Caramel Crack Cupcakes", as they became affectionately called.
My “Caramel Crack Cupcakes”

9.  What is it with the pink compression socks?  There’s really no color better than hot pink.  I do have to admit, it can be blinding, at times.  Since compression socks are $50/pair, the pink ones were the only ones I owned, for a time (so naturally I always wore pink compression socks).  Santa brought me some black ones, and I have to say that I really don’t like wearing black.  I know my ninja brothers and sisters would disagree, but black is soooooo boring!Compression socks

Yes, Coach Bounds RAN across the field when I came to stretch on the track after my run last August.  And YES, I know he was making fun of me, but I really didn’t care 😉

Happy Friday, Happy Weekend, Happy Spring Break!

Sane Jen