Harlequin Syndrome

Hey Everybody, I wanted to let you know that there’s a new article up at The Body Odd on MSNBC about a weird disorder called Harlequin Syndrome. It’s something I’ve had since I was a baby. The syndrome causes a person to sweat on only one side of their body. There’s a picture of me up there showing off my awesome half-red face. And, yes, that’s what I really look like when I run – no photoshopping involved! When I was a kid, this was the reason I swore I’d never become a runner, but I’ve embraced my freakishness as I’ve gotten older. I only wish I was able to use it as a party trick. Unfortunately it only shows up if I go for a run…or lay out on an extremely hot day. Anyway, to learn more about it check out my big ole mug on the front page of MSNBC’s health section, or at The Body Odd.

Marathon Training Starts Today!

I’m really pumped about my new training routine, which started today! I used the Nike+ coach to build my training program. It looks pretty doable and takes a slow enough pace (28 weeks) that I don’t think I’ll get injured. I’m training for the CIM in December, which is far enough away to not sound scary either. I’m scheduled to do an 8-mile run on Saturday, which sounded impossible a couple of weeks ago, but I managed 7 miles this past Saturday so I’m golden. I did my firs three miles today and they felt like cake after the longer runs I did last week. I’ve also found myself running partners for each of my training days so that should make the miles pass more quickly. Now all I need to do is come up with a new running mix (I’ve had the same one for more than a year…it’s time for some new tunes).

So here’s the schedule for this week:
Monday – 3 miles
Tuesday – 2 miles
Wednesday – 4 miles
Saturday – 8 miles

Cake, right?

Stats for my most recent runs:
Today:
Distance: 3 miles
Time: 32:59
Avg Pace: 10:48
Calories: 334

Saturday (Long Run):
Distance: 7 miles
Time: 1:22:44
Pace: 11:41
Calories: 776

Check out that difference in pace! Obviously I walk more often on a long run than on a shorter run. Heh.

New Shoes!

The Asics Piranha

As I mentioned last week, I had a tinge of shin splints early last week, which of course means I ran out and bought new shoes pretty much immediately. I’m still training in my Brooks, which I plan to replace when I get more cash, but I decided to buy a pair of shoes that would help me get into barefoot running. The shoes I got are the Asics Piranhas – a super light weight shoe recommended to help people ease into barefoot running. I know most people go with the Vibram Five Fingers, but I’m not sure how comfortable I am with stuff wedged between my toes. I’ve always had a problem with flip flops chafing my between-the-toe area so I figured it probably wasn’t a good idea to start off with those (especially since they start at $80).

I’d love to give you a review of these awesome shoes, but I have yet to put in any major mileage with them. I’m trying to take it slow with the barefoot running so I haven’t done much with it. The shoes are extremely lightweight though, which makes them great for carrying along with you if you’re doing a barefoot run. Then when your feet start to hurt, you can switch over to shoes for the run back home. They were highly recommended by Michael Sandler though at the barefoot clinic I attended. The only other shoe, aside from the Vibrams, that were recommended were the new Nike Frees. They’re really comfortable and fit like a glove, wrapping your foot in comfy goodness. Unfortunately, they didn’t feel as good while I was running as the Asics did, so I couldn’t get them. I’d check out all three if you’re looking for a lightweight shoe to help you ease into barefoot running. Oh, and an FYI for the ladies: These shoes are unisex so you have to know your men’s shoe size to purchase them.

As for my recent runs, I didn’t get much in. I went to New York for a week-long vacation and ended up not doing any of running there (plenty of walking though!). The walking in New York seems to have strengthened my legs too, making it possible for me to do 5 miles Tuesday with no pain. Yay!

Stats for Tuesday’s Run (5/18):
Distance: 5.86 miles
Total Time: 1:12:26
Avg Pace: 12:21
Calories: 644

Barefoot Running – Gonna Give it a Go

Check out those leg muscles!

Michael Sandler promoting barefoot running in Sacramento on May 8, 2010.

I’m sitting here with an ice pack on each shin, which makes this post all that much more poignant. On Friday when I was looking up the hours for Fleet Feet, I saw that Michael Sandler was giving a seminar about barefoot running on Saturday to introduce his new book. Sandler was seriously injured in a roller blading accident several years ago and was told he’d never run again. Of course, no runner will ever believe that, so he went for it as soon as he could get those crutches off. He said it was excruciating to do so and eventually turned to barefoot running in the hopes that he could teach himself to run differently. Now he’s running regularly and promoting barefoot running across the country using his story as an inspiration for others.

I’ve been interested in those Vibram Five Fingers ever since I saw that my running partner was running in them. Plus, I’ve heard a lot of the recent buzz surrounding barefoot running so I went to check it out. While I found Sandler to be a bit new agey in his approach to selling the idea of barefoot running, I was definitely buying in. Wouldn’t any runner who’s had to give up running for any amount of time due to injury try pretty much anything to keep themselves running without re-injuring themselves?

Basically, the gist of Sandler’s pitch was that we can all run injury free for a lifetime if we run the way we were meant to run. He referenced the recent Harvard study that found that barefoot runners sustain far less impact than shod runners. He also demonstrated the difference in the stride of a shod runner versus a barefoot runner (heel striking versus midfoot striking).

One of the most beneficial parts of the talk was his demonstrations on how to strengthen your arches (picking up a golf ball with your toes and releasing it several times – like curls for your arches), and how to stretch tight spots using a tennis ball and roller mat to target pressure points. I don’t really know how to explain it well, but I’m sure the book has illustrations with exactly that information in it.

I’d been considering barefoot running for some time, and after hearing Sandler’s presentation, I decided it was time to give it a try. I decided to try it out while I was flying a kite yesterday. I only ran a short distance (probably not even 100 yards), but that’s all Sandler suggested doing in the beginning. He said you have build up slowly and take rest breaks in between. The problem with that is that I’m incredibly impatient when it comes to running. I don’t know if I can limit myself to a couple hundred meters every other day. But given that I got the first tinges of shin splints on my regular run today, it might be time to pace myself. I’d rather take it slow than not be able to run at all. I’m going to try it again tomorrow, but, again, will only be doing a couple hundred yards. If I just add on 100 meters every other day, I should be up to some good mileage within in a month, yes?

One last thought: I think it’s interesting that barefoot running is considered to be so revolutionary and weird. The more I think about it, it just makes sense. I mean, didn’t we evolve to run without shoes on? Yet I still find it a bit ick-tastic to run without shoes on. But then I think back to when I was a kid and all the hundreds of times my parents yelled at me for having gone out to play with no shoes on. It’s just the natural thing to do. And, honestly, the only thing that finally got me into shoes for life was getting a huge gash (14 stitches!) in my foot in sixth grade and having to hear my dad lecture me: “Rebecca, HOW MANY TIMES have I told you not to leave the house without shoes on?!?” What would he say if he saw me running the streets of Sacramento with no shoes on now? 😉

Today’s Run:
Distance: 4 miles
Total Time: 42:30
Avg. Pace:  10:36
Calories: 440

Running With the Breeze

I woke up early this morning with a nice breeze coming through my window and I just knew it was going to be a great run today. Yesterday was another tough one. I went in late afternoon because I wanted to get home and get cleaned up in time for happy hour and fun. It did not make for a fun run though. I did 3.5 miles of walk/running and only made it that far because I run outdoors and had to make it back to my house at some point. Haha. But today? Today was fabulous. There was a cool breeze blowing and the sun wasn’t all the way up in the sky yet. I ran the whole 3 miles no problem. Even my shoe rubbing in this weird spot wasn’t enough to slow me down. 🙂 I’m so glad that I had a good run today because it kind of confirms my thoughts that the reason the last couple days haven’t been so bad just because I’m out of shape. I think the weather and my allergies has a lot to do with how I feel about a run. Anyway, I made my goal of 15 miles this week. Woohoo!

Now I’m off to buy new running shoes…

Yesterday’s Stats
Distance: 3.52 miles
Total Time: 43:06
Avg. Pace:  12:15
Calories: 385

Today’s Run:
Distance: 3.10 miles
Total Time: 32:59
Avg. Pace:  10:36
Calories: 341

iPod Fail

Today’s run was a success, in that I ran a mile more than I had scheduled. The sad news is that only 4.5 miles of my 5-mile run was recorded on my iPod because it suddenly quit during my run. It just completely shut off and had to be rebooted. This is my second iPod nano that has had problems and I’m beginning to be really sad about the whole Apple company. I mean, I get that their looking out for their bottom line by creating products that have to be constantly repurchased by consumers, but as a consumer I find it to be both dishonest and incredibly inconvenient. Not only do I have to spend $100 or more on a product, but I can pretty much guarantee that none of the accessories for said product will be available through Apple anymore and that the product will break within two or three years. I’ve had problems finding armbands for my “old” iPods and can’t get a case for my 1G iPhone and it really frustrates me. What shocks me most about this predicament is that other consumers seem to be happy to constantly throw their money away on updating these products that look like they should last longer than a few short years. And what of the environment?!

But I digress… Back to the run. It was another windy day here in Sacramento, which meant not much of a reprieve for my allergies. Also, I had to run at 3 p.m. because of dinner plans, which meant it was HOT. I did a lot of run-walking today, but I’m still proud of making it to 5 miles. I’ve been telling myself that running/walking in intervals is OK because I’m just gearing up. I don’t want to injure myself before the actual training begins (and hopefully not after either!). Tomorrow I’m going to try to keep it at 3 miles since I won’t have a rest day. I’m trying to get in 15 miles a week and I started late in the week (Tuesday) so I’m playing catch up. Hopefully next week the runs will be better spaced with some shorter runs thrown in.

Anyway, stats for today:

Today’s Run:
Distance: 4.5 miles (actually 5, but no stats on the first 1/2 mile – thanks Apple)
Total Time: 57:23
Avg. Pace:  12:42
Calories: 496

Gearing Up for Training

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been more than a year since I’ve checked in here. I’ve still been running, albeit intermittently. I never really got my groove back after my shin splints fiasco, and then I move to Istanbul for six months, where running was near impossible. But I’ve been gearing back up since I returned in February and now I’m finally (almost) ready to start training again for a marathon. I put together my training schedule this morning on Nike+. It’s a 28 week regime, starting May 24th and ending on race day for the CIM, December 5th. The schedule looks incredibly frightening for someone who’s averaged about 9 miles a week for the last three months, but I’m determined to make it happen.

Part of my success plan is to gear up before the actual training starts. My goal is to run 15 miles a week for the next three weeks to get myself ready. Today was the first day of that plan, and let me tell you, it was tough. I’ve been feeling sluggish and tired a lot lately (due to a new early work schedule). The heat wasn’t doing me any favors either. I took a nap after work though and set my alarm for 5:30, when I felt like it might be cooled off enough outside for me to run. I admit I hit the snooze button quite a few times, but then I had a little talk with myself that went like this: “Becca, today is the FIRST day of your new determination to run. You can’t mess it up already!” So I dragged myself out of bed and got out the door. I’m recovering from a cold and my allergies were definitely not on my side, but I managed.

There was a lot of walking in there, which is always disappointing to me, but I have to remember this is only the beginning. I know I’ll get better, and that’s why I decided to start writing here again. I was going to get a notebook to keep a log of my training, but I don’t want to waste the paper, so I’m going to do it here.

Today’s Run:
Distance: 3 miles
Total Time: 34:50
Avg. Pace:  11:33
Calories: 330