“Stranger to My Happiness” by Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings
Sharon Jones is pretty amazing. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last summer, underwent treatment, and then boom, she released a new album this year. Oh, and the music happens to be goddamn delightful. That’s how you do it. — Mags
Wake Up with Compression.
As we’ve stated before, sleeping in compression tights/socks/sleeves after hard races is an excellent way to speed up recovery. But why not also try this after hard workouts during training?
Wednesday nights are my toughest night of the week, with speed workouts that leave me sore and achy the next day. Last Wednesday, I slept in my Nike OTC Compression Socks and woke up feeling a lot less meowy. I can’t believe it took me this long to try this. It’s a small step with big benefits! – Amie
Racing “For Fun” Still Calls for Serious Training.
During my long run this weekend, I was chatting with Coach Steph about the two half marathons I did earlier this year — and about how hard they were. I realized as I was talking that the reason they were so hard is because I did them for FUN. Huh.
I definitely had fun before the races, after the finish and a few times during, but the overall races were very difficult. Which is the opposite of fun, in my opinion. Isn’t it true that if you plan to run a race “for fun,” it also means that you approach training in the same way? I mean, how many long runs did I miss before those half marathons? Several. In my mind, it was no big deal because I wasn’t trying to break any records and it would be so FUN.
Do you know what’s really fun? Training well, eating well, resting well and racing well. If your race is also part of a girls’ weekend, then you’ll have an even better time! But I don’t recommend running races “for fun” unless they meet one or more of the following criteria:
- It’s a 10K or shorter
- You’ll be covered in colored corn starch by the end
- There’s beer at every mile
- You’re going to wear a costume
Respect your body and do the training required for your races. THEN, I promise, they’ll be a total blast. — Amie
Adopt a Pack Mentality.
When I first started running road races 15 years ago (!), I joined a training group and did my core workouts with them, on their schedule. This was how I completed my first 10K and half marathon. After that, I felt that I knew enough, or could at least find the right information needed to train on my own or with a friend. That worked well for 13 half marathons and eight full marathons, and countless other races. Then my friend Jen urged me to sign up for a training group with her.
Her rationale? “It’s so fun, you’ll meet new people, plus you’ll be able to use the experiences for your blog!” (I do need fodder; it’s hard to come up with new ideas, for real.)
And she was SO right.
There’s something special about running with a pack. When it’s hard, you can draw energy from one another. When it’s easy, you high-five. I’m served up a fresh training plan every week, and I don’t even have to think about it, I just have to get my easy runs in. After the group run, we do a core workout that rivals my arch nemesis, Body Pump. Plus there are injury prevention clinics (who couldn’t use a refresher?), happy hours and make-up runs if your schedule gets crazy. It’s probably the best idea she’s ever had.
We are ramping up for a fun summer, and I’m already making new friends, and hopefully I’ll find a running mate for my fall race (Jen is too fast, damnit). And I now urge YOU to go find a pack and run! — Amie
“Private Eyes” by Hall and Oates
Private eyes (one clap), they’re watching you (two claps). — Mags
For the past four years, I’ve been preparing myself for my daughter to suck at sports.
That sounds weird, but it’s true. I’m competitive by nature, and I grew up playing sports. Lots of them. They came naturally and easily to me, and I loved them. I still do. For me, sports, athleticism and competition are things that define me as a person.
So the minute I found out I was pregnant, I immediately began to wonder if my kid would take after me. Would she have the same competitive drive that I do? What if she didn’t? How would I handle it if my kid didn’t take an interest in my beloved sports? What if *gasp* she wasn’t any good at them?
As my daughter, Nora, has developed, it’s been so wonderful to watch her personality come to life. Sure, babies are great to ogle and photograph and snuggle, but when they become tiny humans with thoughts and opinions of their own, the fun can really begin. The older she gets, the more I see glimpses of what she might be like as an adult.
But is she good at sports? It’s so hard to tell. Children all develop differently, and just because one kid is walking or throwing balls or doing somersaults earlier than another kid doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is going to be more athletic.
But there is one thing I can say for sure about Nora. She is a champion about coming along to run with me. And she always has been. I’ve been pushing her in a jogging stroller pretty much since the day she was born, and she’s always been content to do so. Now that she’s almost 4, she still comes along for the ride — happily pointing out mile-markers on the trail, waving to fellow runners and cyclists, singing motivational music, whatever. It’s only recently that she started asking me about every 10 minutes if she can get out of the stroller and run with me.
“Mommy, can I come run with you now?”
“Is it time now?”
“How about now?”
These days, at the end of our runs, my husband pushes the stroller while Nora finishes on foot with me. We never go far or fast, but it’s the best way to cool down that I can imagine.
So we decided this year for the Hyde Park Blast, we’d let Nora run in the kid’s race. Why not? Worst case scenario: She has a meltdown and refuses to run. We’re out $10. No big deal.
Leading up to the race, Nora could hardly contain her excitement. She proudly proclaimed she was going to win and “practiced” running around the house, in the yard, and to and from the parking lot at school. I also should mention that she showed a similar enthusiasm for Santa, only to freak out when she actually came face-to-face with the big man. So you might say that I had my doubts about how this would play out on race day.
On race morning, we completed the adult portion of the race and wound our way to the kids’ festivities. We wormed our way to the starting line, where Nora’s age group was lining up for the big event. While we waited for the race to start, Nora bounced up and down, her eyes bright with excitement.
They explained the logistics of the run to us through a megaphone and shouted the magic words, “On your mark, get set, GO!” Nora grabbed my hand and darted out in front with the biggest smile on her face that I’ve ever seen.
As we headed up the street and rounded the corner, we were still at the front of the pack. A little kid was coming up behind us, but Nora surged ahead, still grinning from ear to ear.
“All the way to the finish, Nora!” I cheerfully coached. I felt a surge of adrenaline like I was the one competing in this race and another as we crossed the finish line in first place.
Immediately, emotions bubbled up in my throat. As I chided myself to GET IT TOGETHER — this is a silly kid’s race, for Pete’s sake! — I realized the joy I felt was not tied to Nora’s ability.
It did not matter to me how fast or good or talented she was. What mattered is that this made her so happy. And that made me so happy. So happy that I wanted to burst. Not only was she excited to do something she’s been watching her parents do for years, but she actually enjoyed doing it.
I feel like I finally got it. I finally understood why it is that my own parents loved to watch me play sports. They loved it because I loved it.
I can’t wait to watch Nora run more races, compete in sports — or whatever it is that brings her joy. And I can’t wait to watch her find her passion. Because, as a parent, there’s nothing better than that. — Aidz
Pin Your Bib Front and Center.
Race gear can get complicated. Layers! Energy supplements! Ear buds! The list goes on and on.
But here’s something you need not over-complicate: Your race bib.
It’s easy, folks. Pin your bib on your stomach. Below your chest, above your crotch, right in the middle of your torso. If you’re questioning bib placement, aim for your belly button. (An added bonus of proper bib placement? It’s flattering to the mid-section. You’re welcome.)
Here are some places you should not pin your bib:
- The back of your shirt. No one behind you cares what your number is, and photographers can’t tag your photos. Come on, you’re smarter than that.
- The top of your shirt. Aside from looking dumb, this is going to rub you (potential chafing hazard) and adversely affect the way your shirt moves.
- Hanging off the bottom of your shirt. If you don’t pin all four corners, you risk annoying bib flappage mid-race. Also annoying, your legs are going to kick your bib.
- The side of your shirt. Yes, I’ve seen people do this. I have no idea why people would do this. Do not do this.
And please, attempt to pin it on straight. Happy racing, Angels! – Aidz
I’m currently training with a friend of mine, who jokes that she’s recently been referred to as a “newbie.” She’s been running her whole life, and she’s very good at it, so she’s hardly a newbie in my book. But how, exactly, does one classify a newbie?
Is it someone who’s only run a few races, and maybe only for charity/fun and not competitively? Maybe someone who runs slower than a certain pace? Could it be someone who hasn’t completed a marathon? (C’mon, that’s silly; marathons are hardly an indication of running expertise.)
So I asked myself, what is a newbie? And I was stumped. I can tell you how I felt when I joined a running group in Toronto, back when I was a “newbie” …
Oh. My. Gosh. All of the people in this group have run long-distance races. Who in their right mind runs 26 miles! Freaks!
I am totally wearing the wrong clothing. This old T-shirt doesn’t say the words “dry” or “fit” anywhere.
What the heck is a split? How does one know their splits?
And what’s the conversion between a mile and a kilometer? UGH.
What’s my pace? It’s the speed I go before I can’t talk anymore. I have no idea what that is.
I don’t have a watch. WHY didn’t I wear a watch?!?
I hope I can keep up; everyone looks so fast.
The good news is that every running group has newbies. Every race has someone who’s running their first [insert distance]. I can’t tell you how long it takes to go from newbie to bona fide runner, but I can tell you this: it doesn’t matter how many races you’ve run, the distance you’ve covered, or the speed you move. You are a runner if you show up and believe in yourself.
It’s not about expertise, but about experience. I think that’s why people ask me for advice; I’ve experienced a lot of running scenarios, but I’m not necessarily an expert in anything. Just stay the course, and when you show up at a race more nervous about your goal than your running attire, you are probably no longer a running newbie. — Amie
“Back in the World” by David Gray
Took this one for its maiden voyage Saturday, and it made me quite happy. So uplifting. It’s good to have you back in my world again, David Gray. — Mags
Dry Clothes and Sweaty Clothes are NOT the Same.
When shopping for running clothes, there needs to be an option to see what the clothes will look like when they’re dripping with sweat after a 12-mile run in July. If this existed, gray running shorts and light-colored sports bras — seriously, woman, I can see your nipples; the Lakefront Trail is no place for that — would (hopefully) be completely eradicated.
This option also would allow us to better gauge how diaper-y a certain pair of shorts will become or how how heavy that top will be.
But until that technological advancement, our only option is to learn from our and other people’s mistakes.
Example! I stopped wearing a certain green Reebok shirt on long runs after I discovered it showed the giant, circular sweat marks on my chest. I looked like I was leaking breast milk. And actually, I didn’t discover it; a couple of my giggling male Bad Angels were kind enough to point it out to me. Outstanding.
Example! While running behind a sprite young woman at the Madison Half Marathon, I immediately noticed her adorable bright pink shorts. As I got closer, however, I noticed her adorable bright pink shorts also revealed a horrific butt-sweat pattern. Duly noted.
So, next time you’re shopping for gear, consider your sweat. — Mags