“C’Mon Sea Legs” by Immaculate Machine
This came on shuffle while I was writing the other day. I stopped what I was doing, switched over to iTunes and added it to my running playlist immediately.
C’mon sea legs, pull yourself together
You’re gonna have to learn to like
The rockin’ of the waves, whatever.
C’mon now, it’s not meant to be easy
But you’re not gonna spend your life
Being sick over the side.
Words to live by. — Mags
Whether it feels like spring or not, it’s time to get into full training mode for your spring races. Bring the pain!
I’m frustrated that I still can’t safely run outside with any regularity.
I’m frustrated that I have to wait for a treadmill and slog through every mile when I do opt for the gym.
I’m frustrated that I really have no idea what my pace is at this point.
I don’t know if I’m getting faster or slower.
I’ve been sick on and off for months, and I feel like a weakling when I skip a workout to sleep and try to get healthy.
I see my running friends in other locales, logging big miles, and my frustration grows.
And at the root of it all, I have fear. Fear that I won’t reach my goals. Fear that I’m not strong enough, not tough enough. Fear that I’ll never be able to drag myself out of this rut.
This happens to everyone, though. Logically, I know we all have our highs and lows. Logically, I know that even the most experienced and fastest runners in the world suffer through a slump. Logically, I know I’m doing my best and that I’ll find my way out of it sooner than later. But the mind and the heart are often at odds, and this is one of those times.
Today, the sun is shining and my sinus pain is waning. Maybe today will be the day I run myself out of this darkness and back into my happy place. — Mags
Every runner associates herself with a pace. Granted, that pace might fluctuate depending on who is asking, but generally, we all have a comfortable running pace. And, until recently, I assumed that everyone ran at that comfortable pace consistently unless doing speed work or fartleks or whatever.
Well, we did this holiday running streak, and lo and behold, people’s paces were all over the board! And I’m not just talking about one person running at an 8-minute pace one day, and another guy running an 11-minute pace one day. I’m talking about the SAME person running a difference pace depending on the day. Who knew?
Sure, we all post our mile times when we’re proud of them (those of us social sharers, anyway), but as we all shared our pace — proud time or not — the paces varied considerably.
So what can you get out of this?
Stop worrying so much about your pace. In running, as in life, some days you’ll be faster, some days you’ll be slower. Some days you’ll have to push it, and some days you’ll want to ease off the gas. In the end, the run will always give you back what you need. –Aidz
Last week, when Maggie’s former high school volleyball coach, Jeff Nannen, passed away unexpectedly, we got to talking about mentors. Maggie had written a column about Mr. Nannen during her stint writing for her university newspaper, and it occurred to me that I’ve never really expressed my gratitude for my own formative mentors. And as it relates to this blog about running, I figured I had the perfect forum to pay tribute to my high school track coach.
I remember it like it was yesterday. We were plugging through track practice on the dusty track at Blackhawk Junior High. It was a grey day that looked like winter, but felt like spring. I was running 200m repeats.
Since I was a new student, I’d only heard about Mr. Swanson, the track and cross country coach at the high school, but never met him in person. So when a gangly, goofy-looking man sidled up to the track wearing a faded blue, salt-stained Pleasant Valley hat, I didn’t think much of it. I could feel him watching me as we finished out our sprints, and when I sat down to stretch, he walked up and introduced himself to me.
Maybe it was there, on that gravel track set amidst a manure-scented cornfield, that Ron Swanson — or, Swaney, as all of his runners lovingly refer to him — saw something in me. Whatever it is that piqued his interest in me on that cloudy afternoon, helped shape the kind of person I am today.
Over the next four years, Swaney took me under his wing. His first love would always be cross country, but he taught this sprinter (who adamantly refused to run any races longer than one lap on the track) a few things about potential, hard work, and most of, myself.
You see, Swaney wasn’t like any of the other coaches I’d ever had. I could go on for pages and pages with stories and memories of how Swaney nurtured me and pushed me and showed me what I was capable of. I realize now that it takes a special person to voluntarily take on the challenge of adolescent girls, and I salute anyone who does it with the necessary grace and fortitude required.
I can’t put my finger on what exactly it was about him, but for some reason, I always wanted to meet his challenges. To finish his workouts. To show him I could do it.
I wanted to be the athlete that he thought I was.
Even now, I often think about him while I’m running. I wonder what he thinks about my new-found dedication to distance, what he thinks about my pace, and if I’m living up to his expectations. I’m certainly not setting records or winning races, but I do love to run. I love the effort it requires and how it makes me feel. And because Swaney laid this foundation, I am eternally grateful. –Aidz
My dog, Presley, has been my faithful running companion for a decade now. But sometimes–especially when you factor in a double jogging stroller and two squirmy children–taking her along feels more like work than a workout.
And as we run on the trail with our ridiculous gaggle, we often pass people running with their dogs with hands-free leashes. And I think to myself, “Gosh, I wish I could do that.”
Well, then it occurred to me… I COULD do that. Why not? Sure, Presley can be a bit spazzy, but on the trail, we’re at peace. We’re in sync. We’re in beast mode.
So I ordered a Buddy System Hands-Free Leash and hoped for the best.
I took the hound and the new leash for a test-run last weekend for an 8-mile journey, and it was awesome! Presley was a little excited at first, as she always is, running out a bit in front. But guess what? Rather than throwing off my posture by pulling my arms, she was tugging my waist forward, which was actually helpful. Thanks, girl! When we settled into our pace after about a half mile, I wondered why I hadn’t gotten one of these leashes YEARS ago. Presley ran by my side, as she always does, and my hands were free to wipe sweat, futz with my phone and run all relaxed.
Sure, my husband still razzes me for looking like a dork with a leash around my waist, but guess what? I don’t care, I’m in my happy running place.
All in all, I give the hands-free leash two paws up. –Aidz
Since this winter has kept me chained to the treadmill, it’s been a great opportunity to do my best Olivia Newton-John impression.
Except, you know, unlike ONJ, I sweat like a total pig when I’m getting physical and really put my rockin’ new purple Suddora armbands and headband to the test.
It’s true, I get strange looks when I’m donning these flamboyant-yet-functional bad boys. But, that first day, any modicum of self-consciousness was quickly replaced with pride as I trotted on the treadmill next to a gal who was using her white tech tee to wipe the sweat off her face about every 45 seconds. Believe me, I’ve been there, lady. It’s not only annoying but there’s a strong chance you’re going to stain your shirt with makeup. Double gross.
The Suddora bands are cotton/spandex/nylon blend, so they’re ultra absorbent and pretty darn comfortable. Admittedly, the headband starts to feel restrictive after about 30 minutes, but really, that’s about all I can tolerate on the ‘mill anyway. As I’ve discussed before, I have a real problem with sweating out my wrists and elbows, so the armbands are perfect for me. Droplets of perspiration no longer decorate the treadmill when I’m done. You’re welcome, fellow gym-goers!
Plus, they come in a ton of different colors. Oh, and did I mention they’re cheap?
Adrea also tested out the non-slip velvet headbands (my short ladyhair is not optimal for those guys). They stay put and keep hair out of your face. What more could you want? How about a discount code for our blog readers who buy them on Amazon? YOU GOT IT.
Go on and get you some for when you’re getting physical. — Mags
“Lightning Bolt” by Jake Bugg
A little rockabilly flavor goes a long way. — Mags
Last week, I engaged in an epic battle with the display screen on my treadmill. It was storming outside, and dammit, I HAD to get a run in. But I kept getting error messages on the display screen and couldn’t get the beast up and running.
Curses! Technology be dammed!
After some extremely technological unplugging and flipping random switches, the treadmill kiiiiind of started responding, chugging along at a 9:22 pace at a .5% incline. Errrr, OK. I dared not touch any buttons, out of fear of angering it further. But after a mile, I was bored. So I tried punching a few of the buttons on the screen. Uh-oh, the machine was going crazy. Suddenly, I was running an 8:34 pace, and what was that I saw? A negative 3% incline? Huh?
HOLD THE PHONE.
I never knew you could set the treadmill at a NEGATIVE incline. Well, bees knees! This felt lovely.
Now, I’m not saying you should set the treadmill at a negative incline for your entire run every time because obviously, you don’t run downhill for an entire run outside. However, if you’d like a reprieve from the treadmill without backing off your pace, you can simply tweak the incline in your favor. And if you’re having trouble getting a faster leg turnover, you can try this same little shortcut to get things moving in the right direction.
So let my treadmill trauma work to your benefit. Go forth and tinker with the incline. — Aidz
I have always approached rest very traditionally. I never really ran for more than a day or two without resting my legs (or at least cross-training) for an afternoon. I rolled my eyes at the idiots who would go out and pound the pavement day in and day out. I figured they were overtraining, over-stressing and overdoing it altogether.
Then I did this crazy little running streak over the holidays, and it completely changed how I look at rest. As it turns out, I don’t need to rest like I traditionally thought. In fact, running a little every day helps keep the rust off and might actually help combat fatigue.
That’s not to say that you can go out and kill it every single day. You WILL actually overdo it and get hurt that way. Instead, simply rethink your rest days. Instead of taking the day off entirely, just go out for a mile or two. Easy, relaxed, without a watch — just enough to break a sweat. You’ll be amazed how quickly your legs will bounce back.
Now, get out there and do something! Anything! You’ll see what I mean soon enough. — Aidz