We’re Going Streaking (Again)!

tumblr_mfyr3swKPg1qf5do9o1_400This holiday season, we’re embarking on a another running streak. It’s really simple. All you have to do is:

Run (at least) one mile every day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. 

It’s just one mile. Only about 10 minutes of your day (OK fine, 15 minutes if you count the time it takes to change clothes).

Wherever you want. Whenever you want. Just sometime during the day, run a mile.

Why should you do it?

  1. It’s fun! We went streaking last year, and I don’t think any of us anticipated just how much we were going to enjoy it. In fact, I can’t wait to start streaking again. Squeee!
  1. You just might lose some weight – during Holiday Cookie Season, no less. Last year, our small test group lost or maintained weight during the streak, and it was not for lack of eating.
  1. You are guaranteed to be a happier, healthier, more ho-ho-holiday-tastic human being. And since it is the season to be jolly, this just makes good sense.

So come on, and join us! Here is the fine print of the rules:

  • This is a running streak, so you must spend your mile RUNNING*.
  • Don’t go too crazy. The point of the streak is to stay active and healthy during the holiday season — and NOT to get injured. I recommend keeping with whatever your current comfortable running schedule/mileage is, and only running one mile on your off days.
  • Get social with it. Tell people you’re streaking, and invite them to join you. The more, the merrier.
  • Got more questions? Runner’s World has answers.

Happy streaking! – Aidz

 

* Unless you are injured, and in that case, we’ll write you a pass. Just spend some time doing an exercise that you are physically capable of that feels like a running-mile worth of effort, and keep plugging daily until you’re cleared to run again.

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Bad Angel Rule #188

Take a Snow Day.

When people tell me it’s nuts to run in the snow, I say, “Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it!” Running in a winter wonderland can be a great adventure. To help you navigate it properly, here are the pros and cons of running in the white stuff – and when you should avoid it all together.

Just a couple of crazy runners enjoying the snow!

Just a couple of crazy runners enjoying the snow!

Here are the pros:

  • It’s quiet. The snow blankets everything, muffling the noise of everyday life. Leave your headphones at home and enjoy the silence. And if you’ll be on the roads, you need to be able to hear cars anyway.
  • It’s beautiful. Forget about the inconvenience of the snowfall and just enjoy the scenery. Take it all in.
  • It’s a great workout, albeit slow. You can’t really do speed-work in the snow, because it’s like running on the beach. You’re strengthening your ankles, lower legs, feet and core in a whole new way.
    If the snow is at least a few inches deep, you can wear Yak Trax for stability.
  • You’ll feel amazing when it’s over. Running on a treadmill tends to make me feel insane, but running outside always lifts my spirits.
    You’ll also feel brave. You just confronted the elements head-on, and won.

 

Here are the cons:

  • Your feet will get wet. Wear Smartwool socks and get into dry, warm slippers when you get home.
  • If the snow is coming down while you’re running, your face will get wet. Not great. If you can, wear a billed hat.
  • You have to run on the roads. The streets will be clearer and more compacted than the sidewalks. But if there are cars out, it can be difficult to maneuver and you’ll end up in the snow bank anyway. Be careful.

 

Here’s when you should abort the mission:

I’ve been running in the winter for a long time. I spent many of those years running in Canada, where the winter drags on far too long. The only time I would avoid running in the snow is when there is ice involved. Nothing can stop you from slipping on ice, so make sure it’s ONLY snow before you head out the door.

Now get out there and enjoy that fresh powder. –Amie

The Mental Side of Physical Therapy

It’s been a little more than a month since I injured my left hip while running the Chicago Marathon. The diagnosis: Bursitis.

Bursitis is a (painful) condition that affects the small, fluid-filled sacs — or bursae — that cushion the bones, tendons and muscles near your joints. Bursitis occurs when bursae become inflamed, and it often occurs near joints that perform frequent repetitive motion.

bursitis memeSo, I guess months of intense training capped by running faster than I ever had for 26.2 miles could be considered frequent repetitive motion.

The pain isn’t sharp or searing. It’s more of a dull, radiating sensation that, at its worst, spreads from my hip joint to my butt, lower back and down my IT band. It basically feels like I covered the outside of my left hip with Icy Hot. Sitting makes it worse, so as a desk jockey, that’s not great.

My physical therapist has forbidden me from running. Other things on my to-not-do list: crossing my legs, sleeping on my left side and sitting for more than an hour at a time. I sleep (on my right side) with a pillow between my legs and set a timer at my desk to make sure I’m getting up often to walk around and stretch. I go to physical therapy twice a week, do exercises, stretch and foam roll at home on the off days, ice before bed, and go to my weekly yoga for runners class. My doctor prescribed me anti-inflammatory meds, which I take sparingly.

But my hip doesn’t seem to be getting any better — and I’m starting to get worried.

I only logged about 15 miles total in the three weeks between the marathon and when PT began. Only once was my hip really in pain during any of those short runs, so I stopped. My physical fitness is dwindling rapidly, but at this point, I don’t even want to try the stationary bike or the elliptical for fear of making things worse.

Logically, I know it’s better to rest and make sure I heal properly before I get back at it. Emotionally, it’s not that easy. Anyone who’s dealt with an injury probably knows what I’m talking about. I’m at the place mentally where I want to trip every person I see out running and post a giant middle finger on every running-related Facebook status. I’ve gained weight. Honestly, I’m borderline depressed. (The suddenly-cold weather and lack of daylight ain’t helping things, either.)

But I’ll keep plugging away at physical therapy and try to stay positive. I have another marathon in April, but if I can’t race it the way I want to, that’s OK. Getting healthy is much more important. Logically, I know this. — Mags

Make Way for Baby

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My finisher’s medal.

This weekend, we enjoyed a pre-Thanksgiving dinner with some friends. As usual, the conversation quickly turned to running, and all of our upcoming spring races. Yeah, I know, it’s barely November. But you know how these things go.

Anyhoo, my friend Chrissy announced she was considering doing the Flying Pig Marathon. She’s run the half a handful of times, but never the full.

“Well, you know, I’d just like to cross it off my bucket list, and I figure it’s a good time and …”

She trailed off, and I finished the sentence for her.

“And it’ll be your swan song before you have babies and they take away all your free time.” I smiled knowingly.

That’s exactly how running the 2009 Chicago Marathon was for me. I knew kids were on the radar, I’d heard rumors that having babies really sucks away your time for personal passions, so I figured, if I can handle a marathon, I can tooootally handle a baby. What I didn’t know was just how right I was.

I know. I KNOW. I mean, nothing can really prepare you for having a baby — or moreover, being a parent — but here are some reasons the marathon is a great way to shift into adulthood (and more specifically, parenthood):

  • Giving up your social life: Initially, this was one of the hardest things for me to wrap my brain around. I’m a social creature by nature, and I certainly didn’t want to be left out of the fun. But I realized that it was less about giving up my social life and more about choosing to do something else. Part of me misses after-work softball games and happy hours, but another part wouldn’t give up dinner with my family for the world. It’s not better or worse, it’s just a different choice. And in the end, I wasn’t giving up my social life at all! I was just socializing with different people. As a parent, the same thing applies.
  • Learning the value of sleep: This has always been something I suck at. I’ve never been the “early to bed, early to rise” type. But marathon training forces the hand. You physically need more sleep, and there’s no way around it. You learn to cherish sleep in a way you probably never did before. And when you’re a parent, obviously, sleep shoots straight to the top of your list of needs.
  • Listening to your body: This goes hand-in-hand with getting more sleep, but it goes a step farther. Training for a marathon requires being keenly in-touch with your body. In order to get to the start line healthy and injury-free, you have to listen to your body and tweak your plan accordingly. This comes in especially handy during pregnancy when all sorts of weird things happen to your body — and afterwards when your body becomes a new body entirely. More than anything, the marathon is an excellent reminder that your body is capable of some pretty amazing things.
  • Changing eating habits: I love to eat. A lot. Eating is one of my favorite activities. However, when I trained for a marathon, Friday night date-nights at restaurants were quickly replaced by Friday nights on the couch with lasagna. Food became less about enjoyment, and more about necessity. It’s not that I don’t enjoy food as a parent, but the dining experience has changed radically.
  • Learning to operate while exhausted: There is nothing quite like the feeling of running a 10K after you’ve already run 20 miles. You go into your first marathon having no idea how you’re going to pull off those last 6.2 miles, but somehow, you find the reserves to make it happen. Those early days of parenthood are much like the exhausted shuffle in the final miles of a marathon. You’re completely tapped out, bleary-eyed and clueless, but you manage to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Even if it’s not always pretty.
  • Realizing that you enjoy the process: For me, the most surprising part about making marathon sacrifices is that they didn’t feel like a burden at all. Quite the opposite, actually. I loved the process of training for the marathon. I loved planning things out, shifting my focus and re-prioritizing my life. And that’s how it is with parenting, too. Sure, things change — and they change a lot — but that’s what makes it so great.

So to Chrissy, I say, go for it, girl! You’ll love training for that marathon. There’s never been a better time, and you’re about to do so much more than check something off your bucket list before babies.

That’s the thing about the marathon. You go in thinking you’re just going to run a race, and somewhere in the process, you realize you’re actually getting a life-changing experience. — Aidz

 

Bad Angel Rule #187

Go Ahead and Smack the Sign.

This year, one of my goals was to convince my whole family to run the Western & Southern Thanksgiving Day Race as a healthy way to kick off the holidays and de-stress before we dig into our turkey. They all agreed to participate, but then my daughter got a better offer to visit her BFF in South Carolina. (Can you blame her?) So it will be my husband, my 14-year-old son and myself running this bad boy.

I’m ready to run a 10K, but can my son? He has played football this fall, but hasn’t run a mile since who knows when. I convinced him to train, so the other day, we went out to run three miles. No big deal.

Seriously, not serious.

Seriously, not serious.

The first mile, I can hear his breathing, which is a little labored (not surprisingly). But when I look over, he’s smiling and talking and goofing off, and then, out of nowhere, he jumps up and hits a parking sign — then cracks up laughing. I’m wondering why he’s not taking this seriously. Surely, by mile two he’ll need to focus. Mile two comes and goes, and he’s still acting silly, telling me all about school and summer camp plans, and he jumps up to smack another freakin’ sign. OK, by the end of this, he’s going to be gassed. Right? Wrong.

We approach the end, and now he’s trying to convince me to pick up the pace! No! I don’t want to hurt myself, you goon! But then it hits me. This kid has energy for days, he’s totally fine. So I let go of my reservations and take off sprinting. I jump up and hit my own sign, and we laugh and race all the way to the end.

So, my advice is this: go ahead and smack the sign. Have fun. Follow your heart and run for the right reasons. Don’t hold back all the time; sometimes it’s OK to let go. And if you’re as lucky as me, and have awesome kids to run with, don’t pass up the opportunity to let them take the lead once in a while.

My son thanked me at the end, but I’m the one who’s thankful. I’m looking forward to our new Thanksgiving Day tradition, the chance to connect with my family and all the signs we’ll smack along the way. — Amie

 

 

If At First You Don’t Succeed

Eight days after falling just short in my first attempt to qualify for the Boston Marathon, I signed up for another marathon.

So in a little less than six months, I’ll toe the starting line at the Illinois Marathon in Champaign and once again take aim at a BQ mark.

It will be my first non-Chicago Marathon, and until very recently — like, the moment I decided to do the Illinois Marathon — I never thought I would be excited to run a smaller full mary without all of the hoopla of an urban behemoth like Chicago or New York or London. But I am.

Absolutely, yes, I love the Chicago Marathon with all my heart and always will, and I plan to run it for the sixth time next fall. But this spring race in Champaign, with less than 2,000 marathoners and 6,000 half marathoners, will be a welcome change. New scenery, a more intimate setting, and for me, all about the running.

My body is still healing from the beating it took on Oct. 12. But, thanks in large part to the kindness and support from friends and strangers alike, my heart has healed from the disappointment of not reaching my goal. As one friend put it, “This story is not about the fall. It’s about the rise.”

I have some unfinished business, and I’m up for the challenge. And April 25, 2015, will be here before I know it. — Mags