Running 101: Beginner’s Guide to the 1st Month – Part 2

Running is about the journey

Running is about the journey

Many people who take on a new exercise programs do not stay with them for very long. They get discouraged or they get bored. This can happen with running really easily. That’s why I never ran before. It was not for lack of trying, but it was lack of mental preparation that really hindered my previous attempts. So here are some tips to prepare your mind and your spirit to help you be successful.

  • It is your run, no one else’s. You own it. Nothing else matters, but how YOU feel running it. Every beginner, including myself, excitedly tells their friends they are running. And then they proceed to tell everyone how slow they are, how bad they are at it, etc., etc. Everyone starts in the same place: Walking out to the road and putting one foot in front of the other. That’s were we all begin. What happens during that time on the road – speed, distance, walking breaks – is uniquely yours. Don’t be ashamed of it or make excuses for it. The win in all of this is that you are doing it. YOU are doing it. No one else. It certainly beats the alternative, which is doing nothing. If you take away one thing from this post, please let it be this: every run, every run/walk, every walk/run is a win. Be proud of it, regardless of the outcome. 
  • There are no bad runs, only training runs. This little bit of wisdom was shared with me by an Ironman triathlete. It was given in a little pep talk after I had a particularly rough race. It was a 5k with heat and humidity raging in July, there was no water on the course and I had not hydrated like I should have. There were 20 other things I also did wrong and you can read about them here. But here is the beauty of it. I made a ton of mistakes all in one race, not spread out across 5 different races. So although was completely miserable, I learned a lot from that experience. And it helped me grow as a runner. Yes, the results were disappointing, but I did it. I know people who backed out at the last minute because of the heat. And that may have been the right decision for them. But I did it. I had an experience I will never forget and I became a better runner because of it. So always remember, whatever the results are, good or bad, there is something to learn from them to help you prepare for the next run. 
  • You can’t lose. Running is an individual sport and everyone who is doing it is a winner. Maybe you don’t take home a medal for 1st place, but if you are going for it, you are winning. Even in 5k races, the runner crossing the finish line last still gets cheers and congratulations. Because it is an individual accomplishment, whether you’re in first place or last. I walked quite a bit of the last half of my Half Marathon in November. It was not the plan but that’s what happened and I still finished. I still crossed the line and got my picture taken with a medal. It didn’t matter how much I walked during the race. What mattered was registering, training and running (walking) across that finish line. Taking charge of your health and fitness is an accomplishment. Doing something like running a race is an accomplishment. There are no failures here. 
  • Make running a lifestyle. Let’s face it, many of us will not run the Boston Marathon. What I think is more important is integrating running as a part of your lifestyle that works for you. Maybe you have no desire to run a marathon or half marathon. Maybe you don’t even want to run a 5k, ever. And if those things are not on your bucket list, so be it. Remember, you own it. You can make running mean whatever you want it to mean, no more, no less. If you choose to run/walk 2 to 3 miles and that is all you ever do, good for you! Congratulations! You are a runner. A successful runner who has incorporated a healthy activity in to your life. Make it work to your advantage however you can.

In my last post I recommended physical things you should do to start a running program.  But just as equally important is how you prepare yourself mentally and emotionally. I encourage you to approach running as you would any hobby that takes practice and time to get better. Yes, indeed distance running does take time and practice. It is not something that happens overnight for most people. If you started painting, you would not expect to be painting like Monet within a month. If you took up golf, you wouldn’t expect to be playing like Lefty within a year. So go easy on yourself. You’ll get there. Happy running!


Running 101: Beginner’s Guide to the 1st Month


Running Is About The Journey

Running Is About The Journey

I hated running the first 30 days. At first, I was excited to go to the gym to see how far I could run on the treadmill. But each time I experienced the same, within moments of starting I felt the 10 pound weight on my chest, my lungs burning, and the fear of imminent cardiac arrest. Gasping for air just trying to get through those first few miles was certainly not pleasurable. They did not bring the endorphin rush or runners’ high, as it is sometimes called, that everyone else seemed to be experiencing. No, instead I felt like the clock had slowed down for me personally to draw out the excruciating pain while it taunted me relentlessly. Tick, tick, tick… How much longer?  Tick….. Tick….. Tick….. 

Some people are born runners. They’re blessed with a ridiculous ability for endurance and amazingly efficient cardio-pulmonary systems. I am not one of those people. Many runners are not either. But we all run. And we are able to do it because the human body is an amazing piece of bio-mechanical engineering that adapts and learns for as long as we will train it.

I’ve been talking to a friend recently about how he is fairing with this sport called running. He just started a month ago. It’s not been easy. Right now, he’s experiencing the same things that I did when I started. I was lucky to have a few good influences who supported me. The rest came from an internal need to prove myself wrong. Prove that I could be a runner. And now as I sit here today having several 5k’s and 1 half marathon under my belt, I did it. I became a runner because I trained my body to run. But just as importantly I trained my mind. 

I started training with no knowledge of what to do or how to do it, just get on a treadmill and run. I learned a lot that first 30 days. So I will share with you the checklist of things to do to start a running program, so you don’t have to learn them the hard way like I did.  Legalese Type Disclaimer: Always seek the approval of a trained medical professional before starting an exercise program. 

  1. Go to Endurance Sports and Rec or similar specialized athletic store to get a gait analysis and buy running shoes. Running shoes are typically 1/2 to 1 full size larger than your regular tennis shoes. This is true even if you have shoes for cross-training or walking. The impact on your feet, knees, hips and back is completely different from these sports to running. Trust me, the way you run and the shoes you run in will make or break your run. This can save your toes and your lower body. It’s that important!
  2. Women: If you are well endowed please take the time to get fit for a sports bra at a store that fits for runners. This does not mean go into Target and grab the Large off the shelf or Dick’s and just grab the 36D. Because your real bra size is not your running sports bra size. They fit differently and you get sized for them differently. Getting the right sports bra for running, is a lot like the fairly tale: You have to kiss a lot of frogs to find the prince. In other words, try a lot of them on to find the one for your body.
  3. Get a watch with a timer. I would recommend getting a heart rate monitor for ease of use, but they can be pricey and are not a requirement. But I stand firm in the belief that you have to get a timer to help understand pace and intervals of your runs. 
  4. Training methodology is up for grabs. I use for the ease of his program and the best results I had with my knees. Starting a running program at 39 with a sedentary decade preceding it, coupled with 2 MCL injuries on the right knee was not the best athletic base. But it can be overcome. Galloway’s methods are the most injury free. 

These are the basics for starting and being successful in your first 30 days of running when it comes to the physical side of the run. But there is a mental element that is just as important in my opinion. That will be in part 2. Posting it tomorrow!

Breaking Through the Fog

AUS077Today was a better day 🙂

  • I didn’t get a good night’s sleep or start at 7 am. 
  • I didn’t get my quiet time this morning because the kids got up when I got up. 
  • I didn’t get the kids to school on time because we were running late.
  • I didn’t get to run outside because I didn’t want to battle the cold. 
  • I didn’t get the majority of my to do list done. 
  • I didn’t run 3 miles, I only ran 2.
  • I didn’t get to spend my evening the way I wanted.

But it was all ok. I think the fog is thinning. In the not too far distance, the sun seems to be breaking through the clouds. Just a peek. But that’s all that’s needed. Because I know this too shall pass.

It was very encouraging to have a great response to my question on depression and prayer. I had some great tweets of support as well. 

I’ve also been trying to focus on accomplishing just 1 or 2 “must-do” activities a day, not my entire list. Trying to push myself and put too much pressure on what I’m doing or not doing gets me no where. As Dr. F, my therapist, says, ” You know Amy, all the things you want to accomplish are great things, just not all at the same time.” Ha!

The irony in that is I was just fine doing nothing, with no specific goals and no specific agenda for the day or the future except for writing and learning. But I began to feel a lot of pressure about having a life plan, what was my next step going to be, what career decisions should I make. My anxiety started to build and trying to make decisions became harder. But the pressure was worse because I have a house payment and my rental property was vacant going on 4 months. Two mortgages with temporary support was horrible. 

But as this process was drawn out, the anxiety was replaced with the depression. I stopped writing and barely fit in any kind of exercise.  Then I began to realize my outlets that I relied so heavily on in the beginning of this process were pushed by the wayside because I was so focused on career and life decisions. I was completely out of balance. Completely. 

What made this day better was…

  • being more focused on quality not quantity
  • being gracious with myself & my kids
  • connecting with some old friends and new friends
  • accomplishing more than laying in bed all day (ha!)
  • being told I am beautiful spontaneously by my son
  • being told I love you by my daughter at least 5 times

It’s hard to be blue with a day like this 🙂

Why I’ll Never Run with Team In Training Again


My 1st Half Marathon! Rock N Roll San Antonio 11/16/08

My 1st Half Marathon! Rock N Roll San Antonio 11/16/08

Before I receive a lot of heckling for posting please know that I think The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is an incredibly worthy charity that is doing amazing things to help find a cure for cancer. But this post doesn’t have anything to do with LLS. It’s strictly based on my personal experience with Team In Training (TNT).

For those that may not know, when you agree to train and run a race with TNT, you commit to raising x amount of money. I had to raise $4000. A month before the race you provide a credit card # stating that if you fail to raise the total figure, you agree to personally pay the balance. But you don’t have to recommit. You can opt to not participate in the race. 

When I signed up in June, I was told that I would have a ton of support and one-on-one meetings with our captain and we would have group events to help raise funds. So I started by sending out almost 200 letters which included SASE’s to make it convenient for their return.  I received about 5 of them  back. Ouch! No fear, quite a few of my blog readers and practical strangers donated quite generously.  I was shocked and awed by their generosity. And it all came close to about $1000.

I was feeling pretty good at the end of July, but oddly there were no meetings about fundraising or group events to participate in. Some folks were having things, but it was mainly friends who knew each other and signed up together to participate. But I was flying solo. So I would do it alone. 

When I finally met with someone from TNT office, the story I got was “Yeah, it sucks to not have really big donations from your letter writing campaign. Well, you can send out more letters, postcards, emails and blog posts.”  OK, but I’ve already done that. I mean I began to feel bad even discussing it with anyone. So I told her about my other ideas and she thought they sounded good. OK got a plan. 

1) Hold a silent auction at POSH’s fashion show. That was a great idea. People joined in and donated very generous items to that event. But when I tried to call TNT to get some publicity, which is supposed to happen, I couldnt get anyone to return phone calls or emails for over 2 weeks. Nothing. I had to have my running coach call in and try to get me support. Apparently the girl who was dealing with our team quit and someone else was taking over, but she wasn’t responding to any one’s request (so I found out at the race) Now I’m not sure of the impact of that, but I did an ok amount of business. I raised almost $900. Not real great considering I had over $2200 in products & services. But it was almost a fourth of my required total. 

2) I had a yardsale. Once again, no publicity from TNT. Really a poor turnout. Made $150. But I had to pay a sitter to keep the kids and watch over the sale while I went for my long run with the team so that cost me another $60. And yes, I could’ve skipped the long run, but it was stressed that it was the most important run of the training. So I went a little late to help get the sale started, only to find there was no trail map. They are supposed to be provided at the beginning of every run so people will know where to go.  After 2 hours of driving and looking I finally ran in to some of them. Got set on the right direction and then ran in to the coach who huffed at me when I said there were no maps, “Well we’ve ran this course 5 times”. OK maybe some have, but I haven’t. And that’s not really the point. They’re supposed to be there as a resource and they were not.  Just another little snafu.

3) I applied for the Walmart community grant of $1000. It was recommended by TNT. I figured if I raised about $3500 I could put in the rest of the money. I applied for the grant in early July but there were 2 administrative errors in processing it. So as re-commitment approached, I spoke with the manager in charge and explained to her the situation and why I needed a definite answer on whether or not I would be approved.  She said it would go through, it was approved they just had the wrong address on it and it was corrected.  

GREAT!  I can recommit and I’ll eat about $1000. I’m ok with that it’s for a good cause. When I checked on the grant the following week, like I did every week all summer long, I was told that the manager I had dealt with was no longer there. The new manager told me I was not going to get approved.  In fact, I was told that multiple people had applied for the grant and only one person was supposed to and they had been telling TNT not to send multiple people to the store for the same charity. Really?  But every time I spoke with someone from TNT they told me that was not true.  Then I was told by Walmart that in fact I had been approved for the grant, but unfortunately when the check came in they called the top application instead of the bottom one, which was the first one that had applied for it – me. But Walmart insisted there was nothing they could do and they told me is was a TNT issue. When I called TNT and explained the situation and asked for help. I was met with blank stares, different stories, etc. And when I began to get frustrated with the different stories I began to get shuffled around hearing, “Well, I really don’t deal with that issue. Just have fun at the race.”  And that’s what the next person would tell me as well. Seriously have fun when I’m out $2000. I’m sorry but that’s going to be a real stretch.

But I did have fun at the race. As you can see by the picture, which I though was pretty darn good for having just ran 13.1 Miles!! Woo Hoo!! I enjoyed the race and the events. It was really an amazing experience going to the Expo and doing the dinners, etc. It was a good time. Which is why I feel horrible about how things ended up. I came back and made a few phone calls to the TNT office asking about the check and how to get the issue resolved and I couldn’t get a phone call returned. 

That’s really the issue I have and why I’m posting on it. Yes, LLS is a great charity or I wouldn’t have committed to do it. Yes, TNT does a lot of great work. Yes, the folks working there are probably underpaid and they are understaffed. Yes, I recommitted of my own free will.  But puhhlease! If you are a non-profit and you have people working to raise money for you, can you simply return a phone call!  This is customer service. I am a customer. I am the person who is going to blog and tell all my friends about this experience. And you can’t return a phone call? Not then and certainly not now.  That’s just not right – profit or non-profit. 

PS – I finished in under my goal of 3 hrs even with a lot of walking the second half. I just couldn’t find a grove. I usually run alone and I was a bit overwhelmed. But in a good way. I’ll post on running & training a bit later.

Running 101: Running Clubs

As a beginner to running, or of any sport, one typically has questions and concerns regarding equipment, training methods, and general information.  If you don’t, you should. Why? Because one of the most common reasons people quit pursuing athletics is the feeling of failure, or in some cases, actual failure. When you lack good solid information or you receive misinformation, there is a huge probability that you will experience problems. This can push you closer and closer to quitting.

For example, the first time I accomplished 3 miles on the treadmill, I was thrilled. However, I ended it with a substantial list of woes: toes were numb, toenails very sore, right knee twitched with pain and my chest was sore (too much bouncing). Here’s the surprising news… I had received advise on running from a friend, a female, who was an avid runner. So what went wrong? She was giving me advice that worked for her. And as I have mentioned repeatedly in Running 101 posts, everyone is unique and you must find what works for you.

So where do you turn for great information that provides you with a broad spectrum of options to explore? The Internet.  Some may also subscribe to a sport specific magazine, such as Runner’s World. These sources are great and will typically lead you to seek out physical sources like your local athletic shop. Specialty stores such as Fleet Feet where the employees are typically athletes experienced in their field. Not mass chain stores where the employees are just that, employees who may or may not have any experience in your sport.

So you have the information, or the data. But what happens when the information is confusing or there are just too many options to decipher which is the best for you? Where do you turn for support? Where do you go for clarity and encouragement? Your local running club. 

Running clubs exist for this very reason: as a support network for like minded individuals. It doesn’t matter if you are just staring to run or an accomplished marathoner. A running club will provide you with tools you need to successfully engage in running. This goes beyond the cumulative knowledge and experience base a running club will provide. Two other key elements that exist within the club are encouragement and motivation.  It is much easier to charge that hill when you have a friend at your side cheering you on.  Likewise it is more than motivating to finish that last mile on a long run when group accomplishment is hanging over your head.

As many of you know, I am training for my first half marathon with Team In Training (TNT). They are a tremendous support network of genuine athletes who are focused on helping each other succeed. I could not have accomplished as much in such a short period if it were not for the guidance and ever present support network.  I’m also a member of Rockstar Runners, which is a national group led by 2 musicians, Glenn Lavendar & Jeremy Thiessen. While Jeremy is local and their are several team events, much of the information and support primarily comes from the blog.  

So where do you find a running club in your area? Hit the Internet for a search. Stop by the local specialty shop. Pay attention to the local races and see who is helping to sponsor.  And what do you do if you dont have one in your area? Check out one of my favorite sites: Runner’s Lounge. It has a search feature that connects you to other runners in the area. Drop them a line and see if they are a part of a team or club. If their not consider starting your own. Maybe it’s with other runners in the area. Maybe it’s just a few friends who commit to getting together and learning together. Either way there is one thing that is likely to occur. You will stay with it longer, especially as a beginner, and successfully reach your goals.

See Amy Tri

Well, based on the title it should be obvious that I have completely gone insane. For those who dont get it, Tri is short for Triathlon. Catching on now? 

Last Thursday evening I committed to participate in the

GJCC Memorial Day Triathlon!

It’s a sprint tri held at the Gordon Jewish Community Center here in Nashville – so May 2009 will be the big event!

How did I get myself in to this? Well, a couple of friends and I were discussing the half marathon that I’m doing this fall and how I’ve received such great support and training advise from Ironman, Dan Perkins.  One of the girls said her husband was training for an ironman and did triathlons. Then she went on to talk about the one this past year at the GJCC and how much fun it was, etc. My other friend, Nicki Robbins, started the discussion of how fun it would be to do one, but she doesnt run. I laughed at the notion, because I dont swim. Alas, this one can be done as a relay team. So that was where we started – Nicki and I participating together as a relay team. That lasted about 5 seconds. New idea… she would help me swim, I would help her run and we participate separately. So, there you have it!  Just a couple of friends hanging out getting laser hair removal (that’s a different post), drinking pomegranate margaritas and when I leave the building I’m going to move to the next level of endurance sports.

But did I mention that I swim like a drowning cat? Literally, I tried twice this summer to swim laps at the pool and I simply can not swim freestyle anymore. I dont know what happened. I took all the swim lessons as a kid. Lived at the pool. Mastered all strokes except the butterfly (coordination issue). This is the result of years of performing a modified breast stroke with my head out of the water as to not mess up the hair (come on, a lot of you went through that phase in high school & college). Apparently, I cant seem to stand putting my face in the water and turning to the side to take a breath. I can do it maybe twice and then I’m freaking out needing to stop. So, that presents a little bit of a challenge.

But guess what?  I LOVE CHALLENGES!!!Ever since I got my rear off the couch and started running, I’m tackling life in a new fashion. I mean, I’m not a super woman, I know that. And I’m not even a very good runner, Lord knows I know that. But I went from not being able to run a mile to running 3.2 in less than 4 wks of training. My next leap in mileage was from 4 to 7 miles in 4 wks. And I’m ready for more! My TNT coach has actually stopped me from going extra miles. So training for the half marathon and figuring out my style, pace and issues, has really taught me that I can accomplish anything. 

Does the idea of a half marathon scare me anymore like it did when I signed up? No. Even the idea of a marathon doesnt make me shake in my shoes. There is a saying, “If you can run a mile, you can run a marathon”. Now I get it! I didn’t understand it until I started with my longer training runs. And now it makes we want to do more.

So, can I do a sprint Tri? Yes, I believe with 100% confidence I can. I would have never had the courage to make that statement a year ago, even 6 months ago. But today, I am a woman who is learning that I can trust God and trust myself and make good decisions. That brings about a confidence and peace that I’m not really sure I’ve had in my personal life before. And that’s pretty cool.

So, I can’t swim. I dont own a bike. Dont have the money to outfit myself with the latest and great equipment that I have been surfing on the web all night long (literally all night long – no sleep for the pup). But I will share with you what I do have: Drive, Confidence, Support and Will! These things you cant buy. The rest will work itself out.

I’m so stoked to get started training, but first I have this little half marathon thing I need to do. =)

Team In Training – The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

I’m currently raising money to fight cancer with Team in Training. Team in Training helps the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society raise awareness and funding for these two blood cancers that strike many people of all ages.  Below is my story and reason for running….
 The Early Years

The Early Years

My grandfather is battling lymphoma. He is in the 2nd year of this horrible disease and his health has deteriorate progressively.  Unfortunately, due to his heart and his age there is nothing that can really be done to treat his cancer.  This is both understandable and yet horribly frustrating that he is in a position to just wither away, struggling with symptoms and being shifted in and out of the hospital. 

If anyone knows anything about “The Greatest Generation” then they know that my grandfather is a proud man. A silent man never prone to complain or bring attention to himself. He would not fuss or bother anyone with the details of his illness or the pain he feels or the fact that he can not plant his beloved garden this year or take care of grandma the way he wants to.  There is a silent determination, perseverance and dignity about his character. 

Birthday Gifts (My cousin, Gpa & Me)

Birthday Gifts (My cousin, Gpa & Me)

I have often said that during this time of transition in my life I am praying for grace, dignity and strength. I look to someone like my grandfather who had to leave school in the 8th grade to care for his mom and 8 siblings because his alcoholic father abandoned them. He fought in WWII. He raised 3 children while staying married to the same woman, who he continues to love and care for, for almost 70 years. He has had 2 quadruple bypass surgeries and has black lung due to long hours in the coal mines of Southern Illinois. Now as he battles Lymphoma, he handles it as he has the other transitions in his life.  I hope that I can embody half the grace, dignity and strength as he does.

Christmas 2007

Christmas 2007

He is my inspiration as I join The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Team In Training to raise money to battle the disease my grandfather and countless others face everyday.   I will be competing in the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco this fall.

My story is one of lofty ambition and gritty determination as up to the beginning of March, I had never ran in my life. But life has a way of helping us get off the couch and moving, which led me to my 1st 5K run with only 4 wks of training.  That’s when I learned about Team In Training and what a wonderful organization it is and how supportive they are to the participants.  And how incredible is it that I can be personally involved in helping fight my grandfather’s disease by running!

This will be my first Half Marathon event, which is over twice the distance of my original goal I set for the Fall, a 10K. But after meeting with my Team In Training Coach and thinking about my grandfather seeing pictures of me cross the finish line, I knew I had to do it this Fall, I could not wait!

 I am humbly asking that you visit My Fundraising Page HERE and make a donation.  I need to raise $4000 by September 1.  What ever the amount may be $5 or $20 or $100. It will all be appreciated and go to such a worthy cause.  There is also a page at the top of my blog to allow My Fundraising Page to be accessed at any time so you can see my progress through out the summer.

Thank you! Thank you for being such a supportive community! I could not do this without you!

Running 101: Heat, Humidity and Heart – Follow Up

This is the 5th installment of my series, Running 101, where I share lessons learned from my Teaming In Training experience.  Sorry for such a delay in posting a new installment, but I wanted to trial a couple of things before I put anything in writing. HERE’s THE BIG NEW:


6 Miles is my personal long run record and it only took 82 minutes (about 15 minutes less than my 5 Mile run).  I’m so excited! I could not believe how well it went and how glorious I felt afterwards.  I was surprised we were done already.  I thought for sure we had another 2 miles to go because I felt so good.  And here’s why I think it went so well….

Our latest topic has been running in heat and humidity and what that can do to a body, specifically mine.  It’s not been very pretty in past runs. But Dan Perkins, Ironman Pastor from CA, has given some very good advice in this series and pointed me in the right direction. 

One of the first things I had to do was ensure that I was getting enough water/hydration.  There is a simple method to calculate how much water your are losing during a run, thus giving you the amount of water you need to consume during a run so as to avoid becoming dehydrated.  Here it is:  Weigh before and after a run completely naked. Weighing with your clothes on will skew results because they will increase in weight with your sweat – Ewww! – A smelly fact, but fact none-the-less.  This number is the amount of weight loss or Delta. Add it to the amount of liquid consumed during the run and that gives the total amount of water weight lost.  This is how much you are losing during your run. If you divide it by the number of miles you ran, the results are equal to the amount you should be consuming during a run so as to avoid dehydration.  There, pretty simple.  

While I can’t believe I’m putting my weight out there for the world to see, I’ve posted my results to show you the calculations.  (Yes, I’m still working on that last 12-15 lbs of baby weight to lose – even though they are 3 yo)  So my goal during a run is to consume approximately 10 oz per mile.  This will can go up or down depending on the heat and running conditions.  I think it’s a good average though because the day I ran it was pretty hot. 

Weight Before 138.50 lbs.  
Weight After 138.25 lbs.  
Delta 0.25 lbs.  
Convert to Ounces 4.00 ounces (Delta *16)
Liquid Consumed 42.00 ounces  
Total Loss During Run 46.00 ounces (Delta + Consumed)
Loss Per Mile 9.20 ounces (Ttl Loss/Miles Ran)

Here’s the second part of the equation… running to train with my HRM (heart rate monitor).  It’s very easy for me to jack up my heart rate in the 190s. Scary – just goes to show that a Size 4 can be a very unfit person.  The high heart rate is exactly what was causing my performance issues and physical symptoms in my earlier runs.

Since running with the HRM I train to exercise my capacity for longer runs.  I read Bill Wainright’s article on this at Here’s the basic concept: Numerous studies have shown that maximizing the development of the Aerobic system is done by exercising at/or below the Aerobic Threshold.  This means that I’m running at a lower threshold in order to increase my threshold and gain speed over time. The results have been great! 

My goal is still on the high side, but much lower than what I was doing.  I run to keep my heart rate in the 160’s, the lower the better.  During my walk periods I focus on relaxing and breathing to reduce my heart rate to the 130’s.  As I deal with hills, humidity, heat, etc. I have to watch my heart rate because it will increase wickedly fast before I even know it.  While it’s ok run run at a higher rate, it does not allow me to stretch my system and improve over time.  So I have actually had to take my intervals down to 3:1 which is perfectly ok.

This is what training is for, it is preparation.  It is to stretch our systems – cardiovascular, muscular and mental – to prepare us for future runs.  There are a lot of methodologies to training and ways to go about preparing your body for a half marathon or marathon or even an ironman triatholon. I guess the most important thing that I have learned thus far is that I have to find what works for me and go forward.  It’s no one else’s race but mine. Only I know how to prepare my body and mind the best. The only wrong decision you can make when it comes to training for a run is to not do it!

So get out there!  KEEP MOVING FORWARD!!!

Where are you in your training?

Here’s the big medical disclaimer (probably should’ve done this before):  Anything posted here is by no means a medical opinion.  It is all based on my own personal experience, trials and tribulations.  Since we are discussing things of a medical nature…  You should seek the advise of a physician before beginning any physical exercise program. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms that I discuss, please seek a professional opinion.

Running 101: Hydration or Lack Thereof

This is the 3rd installment of my series, Running 101, where I share lessons learned from my Teaming In Training experience.  The subject of this weekend is obviously staying hydrated or avoiding dehydration.  I am beginning to think I have a problem in this area.  I haven’t nailed it down quite yet, but I found a lot of good information to share regardless. 

This weekend, I had another 4 Mile run.  It was not my best time 48:08, but not my poorest either.  I faced two obstacles on Saturday.  The first was hills, I personally felt like they were mountains. Krissy, who actually runs mountains would laugh at the speed bumps I called hills, but hey, they were my first pair.  Yes, there were two – The Gateway Bridge from LP Field to 2nd Ave and then the long, lonely climb up Broadway to 12th.  I say lonely because while I was digging in my car for my sunglasses the rest of the team left me. So much for teaminess.  I’m thinking I don’t like hills or mountains or speed bumps. Inclines of any degree just don’t seem to suit me much. Maybe it’s just a beginner thing, like talking & running at the same time. Still not comfortable doing that either.

On to the second obstacle… chills. This is the 4th time I’ve experienced chills somewhere in the middle of the run that progresses to a point that I have to stop running or I start to feel light headed and a bit of numbing, tingling in my hands, lips. Nice, huh?  I even did that last week with my best time (44:47) and it was a decent run. But in general this little problem I’m having is killing my times. Well, and beyond that I don’t want to stroke out or anything serious.  Here’s the history:

  • Westhaven 5K:  1st occurrence – very bad, light headed, very dizzy, walked most of the last mile. Heat was unbearable, very dehydrated, little water on coase (remember my story of drinking from the hose)
  • Fleet Feet 4 Mile: 2nd occurrence – very mild, no dizziness, continued run/walk ratio, was ok. Weather perfect 70s, that’s the day that I ran in the rain, hydrated well day before, morning of & during the run.
  • Centennial 4 Mile: 3rd occurrence – medium chills, no dizziness, reduced run/walk ratio, was ok. Weather hot, heat was getting to me. Missed water stop #1. Hydrated well day before, ok morning of.
  • LP Field/DT 4 Mile: 4th occurrence – bad chills, light headed, light dizziness, reduced to walking middle of 4th mile, hydrated so much i was drowning the day before. Drank 32+ oz pre-run, 8 oz Ml 1, 10 oz Ml 2.  It was hot out, felt very overheated. 

So there it is.  Witheach run I hydrate more & earlier in the week, especially the day before, carry water with me, drink more at the water breaks, etc., etc. And all I can keep thinking about is Hal Higdon and my TNT nutritionist saying that overhydrating is bad, even dangerous.  Apparently it can kill you by throwing off your electrolytes in such a jacked up fashion your electrical system (i.e. heart) stops. So I’ve got that to think about too. 

Asking my TNT coaches & some other running friends I get the same answer over and over again… you have to drink more. But I feel like I’m missing a piece of the puzzle.  Because I’m a drinker in general.  If I’m at home I have a beverage with me. I don’t get in the car without getting a drink out of the frig to come along for the ride. When I go to work I have to have a drink at all times.  We are a genetically thirsty family.  So I’m very aware of increasing my consumption. It’s preoccupied me and yet I’m still getting the chilly-willies.

Here’s some things to think about from some research on the net…

Runner’s World:

  • As little as 2 percent dehydration will have a negative effect on your race performance.
  • Symptoms include thirst, dizziness, weakness and nausea. Serious dehydration can lead to cramps, chills and disorientation
  • To determine how much liquid to take during a run or race, you need to know your sweat rate, and that can vary between 1 and 4 quarts per hour. Weigh yourself nude before a timed training run, and then again after. One pound of weight loss equals 1 pint of water loss. Calculate your sweat rate and use this to determine your fluid needs during a run or race. For example, if you lose 2 pounds during an hour run, that’s 2 pints or 32 ounces. Thus, you need 8 ounces of water or sports beverage every 15 minutes.

For more information, check out this really great article also from Runner’s World:

REVISIONIST DRINKING – Water, water everywhere… but how much do you really need? By Sally Wadyka


And I actually read somewhere, I think Cool Running maybe, that humidity can prevent you from sweating normally and cause issues too?  It seems heat and humidity play a huge roll in to it for me.  If anyone else has any really great advise or ideas, please speak up.  I have more people telling me in person they are reading and I know some of you actually run quite regularly!  Share your voice, please! 

So what’s my next step?  I guess bringing the scales to a run to do the math. I guess there will be more to follow.  Right now, I have to go take a potty break from drinking all this water!  Nighty night!   

Running 101: See Jane Run!

Well, I hit a new PR (personal record) again today! Another 4 miles only this time I did it in 44:47, which is about 8 minutes less than last Saturday.  Crazy, huh? And I did it on 4 hours sleep.  Still cant manage to get the sleeping issue down the night before a run, but I will continue to work on it. 

I think I did better today because I ran my own race.  No one elses.  We split off in to two groups – the 4 milers who run consistently and the 3 milers who were running 2 walking 1. I didn’t fit into either group, so I started with the 4 milers, but they were running at a much slower pace than I normally run and it felt like I was struggling to hold back. So after my second interval, I just passed them.  I had on my iPod and they were all chatty.  I wasn’t intenally being rude, but I really wanted to concentrate on a couple of key elements.  I wanted to really focus on my stride and my breathing.  Maybe it’s because I’m a newbie, but when people are trying to chat with me, my stride gets shorty & choppy and my breathing does the same.  That sounds kind of silly, but for me, I can’t run, talk and breath at the same time – ha ha!  I’ve also noticed certain music impacts my stride. This may be even stranger, but it is true. I’m sure it shouldn’t, but it does. Maybe it is the beat that I am following but I can feel it take over and it lulls me in to a better rhythm and longer stride, which is really important when you are 5′ 3″.  Finally, I wanted to pay attention to my overall form. Last week my lower back really hurt Saturday night and Sunday after I ran the 4 miles. I am blaming on weak abs and possibly poor form (i.e. leaning forward) during my run. So I was focused on those things today and obviously they worked because I have felt really great and I significantly improved my time. 

Here’s nother little thing I found on the web when I was looking at some sites for upcoming races.  It’s a great site called See Jane Run.  Here’s the history on Jane.

“You want to run a marathon?”

It was those very words that hatched the idea for See Jane Run. After years of standing on the sidelines, Lori Shannon decided it was her turn to run. Living in New York City, At 5’3” tall and wearing a size 16, she didn’t look like a typical marathoner. And yet, her desire was as strong as any athlete.

So, she went to her neighborhood running store where she was greeted with raised eyebrows instead of support and camaraderie. After a few years of getting this attitude from many shops, Lori had a great idea. Why not start her own store where women athletes of all shapes, sizes and age could shop and feel comfortable and inspired?

In 2000, several years after completing her first marathon, Lori, now a computer consultant in San Francisco, opened the first See Jane Run retail location in San Francisco’s Noe Valley. She didn’t even know how to operate the cash register, but she knew how to help women realize their hopes and dreams.

Lori has competed in numerous marathons with a personal best of 4:38, ridden her bike cross-country (2,600 miles) and participated in triathlons. She has also opened more See Jane Run locations, and developed Train With Jane, an organized training program for women at all fitness levels looking to do marathons and triathlons. And now See Jane Run even puts on marathons and triathlons.

Which proves one thing. A girl can do anything she sets her mind to.

Jane manifesto