Thursday, November 7, 2013

FAQs: All Things Running

When I first started running at the beginning of 2012, I had an old pair of yard shoes, and a desire to shed some weight. I knew diddle squat about running, except that runners were crazy because running was for the super fit, not for people like me. Why was I running? I used that word very loosely as it applied to me. I couldn't run one mile without stopping to walk. I never let myself think about races, or a distance longer than a 5k, because that was outside of the realm of possibility for me. I wanted to loose more weight. Period.

1st Run ever recorded
I had been able to wriggle out of 30lbs on my own with diet and regular exercise, but I had hit a plateau and was feeling frustrated. In an effort to step up my game, and get those numbers rolling, I decided to conquer my biggest fear, running. To be absolutely clear, up until the beginning of 2012, I had never in my life been a runner. When I was very young, someone once told me I couldn't be a runner because of my flat feet, lies, but I believed them and thus I never tried. 

I couldn't wrap my head around the concept of running for fun, only running for weight loss, and it felt like torture. As the pounds came down, and my feet picked up speed, I started to fall in love with the challenge running presented. Somewhere along the way I stopped thinking about running in terms of weight loss, and started thinking in terms of sport. I found the weight loss to be a very pleasant by product of this little running thing, I was starting to love. I reluctantly signed up to train for the Cajun Cup (10k) with a group at my gym. I can still remember my first 5 mile run and how monumental that felt at the time. Fast forward one year, a dozen 5ks, two 10k races, two half marathons, and training for the marathon, I truly believe anyone who wants to be a runner, and is willing to work hard and be patient, can be!

Presently, I get lots of questions about running, and all things pertaining to pounding the pavement.Below are tips and tricks I have learned along the way!

How did you get started?

Set a small goal, depending on your fitness level. If you don't exercise at all, it's probably not a good idea to go out and expect to run a 5k today right now. Don't set yourself up for failure. Do NOT worry about time, focusing on keeping your feet moving forward one step at a time. Next run, make it your goal to best your previous attempt!

I can only run on the treadmill and occasionally outside. How can I make the most out of treadmill time?

When running on the treadmill the incline should always be set to 1.0 to simulate running outside. I complete my tempo runs, and incline walk/run work on the treadmill regularly. If I'm stuck inside I'll use this time to practice pacing, or work intervals. However, do not expect running the treadmill to be the same as running outside in any capacity. Running outside is more challenging, but it's also infinitely more entertaining. I love exploring my city in a way that I would never see from the car. 

How can I work up to longer distances?

I've used Hal Higdon's training methods to work up to each distance. The biggest factor is not increasing speed and distance too quickly or you will get injured. I've learned this the hard way (three times but who's counting). I liked 10k training for working past the three mile distance as the long run only increased half a mile at a time. This was manageable for me pace and distance wise. Your body, as well as your mind, needs time to work up to each distance.

How do you execute running and strength training?

This one is tricky. I learned the hard way last week, that trying to work in a heavy leg day is probably just not going to work until after the marathon. There's not enough recovery time in the week. Presently, my long weekday run is the only form of exercise I'm getting in that day. On short run days, I will either A complete strength training post run or B work in a two-a-day. All this depends on your fitness level. I wouldn't try starting a long distance run routine and a weight lifting routine simultaneously. If you've already been doing both, the two can work together.

How do you handle cold weather running?

We really only get a few super cold days a year deep down south. I have one heavy run jacket and one lighter run jacket. I buy jackets that zip all the way down as they are easier to take off and tie around the waist once you warm up. If it's extra cold out, I'll wear a long sleeved under armor shirt I have that's fast drying, though usually I wear a tank top under my jacket. I get warm rather quickly once I get going. Fast drying material is key as you don't want to be running in sweaty wet cloths, in cold weather, for a long period of time. Unless you like being sick. I also have gloves and a head warmer if things get really serious. You don't want your ears and fingers to be cold. Miserable. Just make sure to use fast drying material. I find Bondi bands are best for keeping my ears toasty and dry, while keeping my hair out of my face and dry as well.

Run gear! What do I need?

Depending on how far you plan to run, will depend on how much stuff you need to pack with you! Thanks genius! I have a SPI Belt that fits my phone, car key, and fuel (Shot Blocks). I recently broke down and purchased a hand held water bottle with a stow away compartment as well. I also have a run watch and I use Nike AP to track my runs. You can read all about my must have gear items here.

What should I eat before, during , and after a run?

The big kahuna- this is what everyone always wants to know. I personally only worry about fueling pre-run for a long run. I would define a long run as anything longer than 8 miles, or a total run time longer than 1:15:00.

 What to eat before:

This is different for every single runner I know. I do a lot of fasted running during the week, as I don't drag butt out of bed early enough to eat, run, shower, and get to work. It's more like fall out of bed, throw on run gear, splash water on my face and go. The night before a long run I allow myself a carb heavy dinner. Note carb heavy not fat heavy. A fatty dinner will slow you down. On the flip side, not enough carbs and fat will result in a shituation. While funny, it's not ideal. Salad is hard on the digestive track, that's all I'm gonna say bout that.

The morning of a long run, I'll eat something light, a banana or quest bar usually, give it about 30 minutes to settle and then I'm good to go. Some people need to eat heavy for a run, like oatmeal and peanut butter. I personally have portion control issues when it comes to peanut butter so I'm not allowed to eat that anymore. Sad panda. It may take some trial and error before discovering what works best for you. 

What to eat during a run:

I fuel during a run for distances greater than 9 miles. My rule of thumb is every 3 miles it's water and shot block time. I usually only eat one shot block per 3 miles. Again, everyone is different. I've been out on a long run with people who literally stop to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It takes to time to figure out what works for you.

What to eat after:

 I don't like to eat right after a run, it takes awhile for me to feel hungry. This is usually breakfast time for me so I'll grab an egg sandwich and some fruit.  I've seen some of the smallest people I know devour 2,000 calories directly after a 12 mile run, and then not be hungry again until dinner. I find it takes awhile for the ravenous long distance appetite to catch up with me, so I try not to eat too much directly after the run. I know what's coming.... 

I find myself to be most hungry the day following a long run. I won't eat a 5,000 calorie day simply because I ran 10 miles. On the long run day, I will eat back about half of my calories burned. Just because you run long distance does not mean you can everything you get your hands on. You can still gain weight. Trust me. I learned this one the hard way too!

The last great debacle to tackle- Watch vs the Run Ap. More on that later. Life is calling! Have an awesome Thursday and happy running!

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  1. The biggest tip I got when I started running was to go really slow. My friend who runs marathons would do my sad little first training runs (like run 30 sec, walk 1 min) with me and she told me I couldn't finish because I was trying to run too fast. She slowed me down to basically a walk and I could finish everything successfully. She was the best pacer and running buddy. I have a q- ever get hip burning pain? About 2 weeks ago the day after running I had burning hip pain. Real bad. It's like a mixture of a cramp and a burn. I stopped running and haven't since. It has gotten better but it still burns in certain postions-- crossing the burning hip over my other leg, indian style, laying on my back with that leg bent-- and it has a crampy feeling after sitting for a while. Once I start moving and keep moving it pretty much goes away but for the first week I was hobbling around in bad pain. I'm just surprised it hasn't gone away yet. Ever experience something similar?

  2. Great post! I plan to buy a SPI Belt soon. IT's so funny that you mentioned eating a salad the night before. I ate a salad with grilled shrimp last Friday and ran a 10k Saturday morning. Oh girl, it wasn't pretty. I think I will stick to my carb load from now on.

  3. I was also told because of the shape and length of my legs I wouldn't get very far as a runner. I think the term used was chicken drummy legs- seriously! Who makes up rules for what body type a runner can be anyways?

    I haven't had a leg day since early in my training. I had broken in new shoes AND did a ton of squats and lunges and was sore the rest of the week- even through my long weekend run. It was the pits and I haven't done it since.

    Love all the tips/advice!

  4. I have questions about your weightloss. What did you weigh before you started losing and then when you plateaued? I've lost about 35 but pretty much have stayed the same the past 6 months. I really want to lose another twenty but I find I haven't been motivated to do the work. And of course, it's not as easy as it was.

  5. great information, thanks for the tip lovely!

  6. Thanks for this! I'm definitely going to get one of those belts ASAP :) the phone-in-the-bra thing is getting really old.