mud runs are good runs

Good muddy run yesterday!
Had a good and dirty second run yesterday – ventured out onto some trails for about 8 miles. 50 degrees and occasionally misting made for some lovely mud, although my stomach wasn’t 100 percent (note to self: raisin bran is not the best pre-run choice).

Also did 5.5 in the morning, totaling about 13.5 for Wednesday.

HOWEVER. My left shin has been hurting in one very specific spot for a week or two, just about coinciding with when I got the Bare Access and starting focusing on my forefoot strike. I’m really, really hoping it’s not a (gulp) stress fracture. I think I may kill myself if it is. So I’m going to keep training, but keep an eye on it and hope it doesn’t get worse.

peace love and (hopefully injury-free) running!
bec

Rest days are helpful after all, and so is road salt

Last Saturday, I felt guilty about taking a rest day… until I woke up on Sunday feeling so much better. My feet weren’t aching and my calves were blessedly un-tight. True, I ended up taking an entirely unnecessary second day off, but that was for non-running reasons (read: cuddly day in bed followed by watching four of my friends attempt a 10+ pound burrito challenge) and I have no regrets about Sunday. No. Regrets. (Especially because I wasn’t one of the ones who was trying to eat a monster jabenero-filled burrito…)

Since I’d taken the weekend off, I changed Monday from the usual rest day to two split runs, due to time constraints. My morning run was almost perilous: I found myself running/sliding down hilly sidewalks totally coated in not-too-thin layers of ice, trying to maintain enough control to avoid slipping into intersections, and doing a lot of icy, slushy puddle-jumping. Of course, by the end of the run, my feet were soaked through anyway, but for the first ten or fifteen minutes you can’t resist hoping that maybe, just maybe, this will be the one magical run where your feet stay dry and warm. ‘Twas not the case, but it was still a good little 5-ish miles. Had a friendly fellow tell me it was a beautiful morning for a run, and to be safe (on account of the ice and things). Did another 5-ish tempo run later in the day, once more things had melted so I was able to actually go at a decent pace.

Yesterday was a day of extreme unmotivation (totally a word). Went to work in the morning, but once I laid back down in bed, I was there for the afternoon. Classes? What classes? Planned 13 miles? Pssh. I had South Park and some pretzels… and on top of that, it was grey and rainy and eventually thundering outside, so I had zero motivation.
But then Camille came back from work and we both convinced each other to run, so we finally, FINALLY dragged ourselves out the door and did a nice muddy, rainy, easy 7.5, followed by soup-making!

Made veggie soup and mashed butternut squash with Camille after our run (about 7.5 miles, after a total lack of motivation to get out), plus organized our cupboards. Its a good night :)
Veggie soup. Contains: veggies, ww pasta, a potato, and water. 

So there you have it. Even a depressing day of no motivation whatsoever can turn around and be a happy evening and night, filled with soup, butternut squash, and cinnamon raisin bread.  🙂

peace love and running!
bec

100before21 + Michiblogs

Fairly recently, University of Michigan student started a site – aptly named michiblogs – that is a compilation of various blogs of different genres, all run by Michigan students. I’m pleased to announce that my little 100before21 is now part of their blogroll.

Definitely go check them out, it’s a cool little idea to help bring together such a large campus in a social-media-way, since such a large part of our culture today is based online.

peace love and blogging!
bec

When unscheduled rest days happen…

Yesterday was a light day, just ran about six and a half (slow snowy trail) miles and did 20 hill repeats… first workout in as long as I can remember, really. It was kind of nice in a weird, mindless, repetitive way. A good little workout that didn’t leave me crazy sore or anything.

But when I finally went to bed, I could feel the fatigue in my legs. This week has really been my first one Back-back, and I kind of jumped into it pretty quickly in combination with focusing on my forefoot strike… leaving my calves pretty beat up and my feet more than a little stiff and sore. So when I woke up this morning for my planned 18 miles, it was with a sigh and a groan. And thus I was caught in another timeless runner’s dilemma: run what you’ve scheduled and maybe have a really terrible run, cut it short, or take the day off?

After about an hour and a half, I finally dragged myself out of bed and into my running gear and gingerly stepped out the door. The first half mile was fine: sunny and relatively warm (windchill of almost 20!), but not long after that, I just stopped on the paved trail and looked around. I was barely moving and my calves had absolutely zero spring in them. And I was just tired. Coming off of not running with too much intensity (or, to be honest, much at all) and almost accidentally heading for an 80-mile week isn’t something done easily. I stood there for a few minutes, half-anger-pouting, half-arguing with myself about whether this was just me being a wimp or if I was actually ignoring my body, and finally decided on the latter (with some grumbling). I headed back home in a slightly roundabout way to see if I’d change my mind, but I didn’t. So what was supposed to be an 18-miler turned into a 2+ mile flush run, basically.

But still. Unscheduled rest days are so mentally tough for runners. The nagging question remains: could I have run? would it have been fine? It’s always difficult for me to get over this and just go on with my day. I have such a hard time differentiating between actually listening to my body and wondering if I’m making up excuses – especially when I’ve set totally arbitrary (and possibly unwise) goals, like an 80-mile-week for my first real week back. Once I set those goals, however, they’re nearly impossible to unstick from my mind. Even if I do a 70-mile week, which is great, I’ll still most likely feel like I’ve failed to achieve something that is entirely a mental construction and has no real bearing on anything… this early in training, anyway.

Running is so dependent on mental things like this. How do you guys deal with them?

peace love and running!
bec

FrostBUTTen

Can’t resist a good cheeky pun.

GET IT? CHEEKY.

Ok, I’m done now. I went out for a little less than two and a half hours after classes today, meaning that a solid two hours of my run was either in the fading chalky blues and greys of a winter sunset, or plain old wintery dark. This meant that it was cold. For some reason – maybe just the amount of time I was out and the fact that I wasn’t moving super quickly – my butt got really, really cold with about 45 min/1h left. I was wearing my tried-and-true UnderArmour tights which, although not made specifically for running, have served me well over the years. (I do have a pair of Brooks Utopia Thermal tights coming soon, which is exciting.) My torso and hands were a little cold too – the first time I’ve actually been cold while running this winter, and not incredibly uncomfortably so… although I may have just lost feeling in my hips/butt/thighs.

Which eventually I did. And when I did get back, showering was almost painful (almost, but not quite. Hot showers after runs are The Best Showers Ever.). My posterior was extremely red and had a stinging/burning sensation; my quads weren’t as bad. It took a while to go away even after a long, hot shower.

So anyway, that’s today’s running misadventure: exploring some new trails (with one VERY sketchy spot which, of course, I ended up running by as the sun was setting), getting minor butt frostbite, and the following derp moment:

I’m waiting to cross a busy street. A bus stops. I’m confused; there’s no bus stop, and I think it’s pretty clear that I’m out running, not waiting for a bus. The bus driver waves impatiently as if to say, “Well? Are you getting on or not?” I shake my head and motion that he should keep going, then it hits me: he’s waiting for me to cross.
This is why buses should not stop for runners to cross roads. It’s confusing.

peace love and STAY WARM running!
bec

Brooks 2-in-1 mitten review

I originally wrote this for our new gear review blog, Dirty Boy Gear Reviews, but figured I’d share it on here too.

My house is old and therefore cold and drafty. I'm wearing these inside. Oh, college living.

We’re in Michigan and that certain time of January has finally arrived… those few dreaded weeks of utter, bitter, biting cold, the sort that freezes your lungs the moment you take the first tentative breath. And that cold stays there, steeped deep within your bones for the rest of the day until you finally seek refuge under a heap of blankets once the sun has set (about 4:30 p.m.).

Yeah, we know how to have a good time. The windchill today was -16 when I woke up at 9 a.m. It hasn’t risen above -4 all day. Yesterday was very similar, although a few degrees warmer less freezing, so I did venture out for an extremely short (and quick) trail run. While he was stuck with poor frozen fingers in his Nike Thermafit gloves (which are fine in milder temps), my hands were actually sweating in these mittens. I’m telling you, it has to be about -20 for these guys to start to even hint at the cold nastiness threatening frostbite. If it’s above about 10 degrees, don’t even bother – your hands will be so sweaty they’ll actually start to get wrinkly. But if you need hand protection from some actual cold, these are your best bet.

With the Utopia 2-in-1 mitten, Brooks used the tried-and-true method of hardshell + insulation layer = warm and weatherproof. The outer layer is, of course, a wind- and water-proof shell, complete with a fabric thumb for convenient snot disposal (although once that freezes, it’s there to stay). The inner is a soft fleece mitten. Both fit quite roomily, which I personally like; I can move my hands/fingers as much as I want, and it allows a little more dexterity than a tighter fitting mitten might allow. The fleece cuff fits snugly enough that it does a good job of sealing my hand in, while the outer layer has a bit more flare to fit over sleeves/a watch.

There’s not much more to say, other than you should definitely invest in a pair of these if you do any real winter running, or even just want a good mitten that’ll keep your mitts warm even in the most disgustingly, stupidly cold weather. Like January in Michigan.

On an entirely unrelated note, I’m transferring to southern California.

peace love and running!
bec

Cold. And new shoes! (Merrell Bare Access Arc 2)

Winter is cold.

Very cold.

I’m torn between the desire to be warm and comfy and the desire to be a committed runner… usually. But the windchill didn’t go above -4 today, and I just would not have that. So no run for me today, and yesterday was only a short (though quick and pretty) 6 miles on some home trails… and my 18-er on Sunday was straight-up cancelled. Too cold for me, thank you. I’d prefer not to get frostbite.

And how did this happen? Last Saturday was practically balmy; I did about 14 with my roommate, and we easily could have been in shorts and t-shirts rather than capris and LS. And we almost got hit by a train, which was terrifying. But anyway. My training is definitely suffering because of the cold and I downright hate it. Hate. It.

On the bright side, I recently got new shoes (my first zero drop shoes, surprisingly enough): Merrell Bare Access Arc 2.


8mm stack, zero drop, 5.5 oz.

My first run in these was a nice 11-miler. Although I didn’t notice it too much, the forefoot strike zero drop tends towards caught up with my calves later on in the day. My usual strike is much more of a midfoot (especially in the PureFlow), which I’ve been wanting to change (largely) for a little while now. The only exception to that will probably be for races longer than a 50k; other than that, I’ll be using that strike for straining and strengthening.

The shoe itself: I like it. The toebox is SUPER roomy, which took a little bit of getting used to, but that’s really nice for a forefoot strike since your foot tends to slip forward a bit. There’s also enough cushion/material between your foot and the ground that they’re protected enough for longer road runs. I’ve been using the Brooks PureFlow for my road stuff, but lately I’ve switched back to the Minimus – there’s just too much of the Pureflow underfoot for me. Also, the tread on the Bare Access is nice: it’s good for roads (that’s definitely its primary purpose), but if I want to throw in a couple miles of nontechnical trail into my run, I won’t be stopped by these like I would the PureFlow, which performs absolutely horrendously on trails. The Bare Access is also fairly adjustable: I have wide feet and it’s comfy for me, but my very narrow-footed friend has some as well and likes them. Good color options, too, although the laces were too short for me to lace the final eyelet for the “runner” finish. That’s an easy fix, though.
All in all, these seem like they’ll be pretty comfy and suitable for my distance road runs (few though those may be), as well as just wearing around. Sorry for the lack of organization in this, it wasn’t going to be a shoe review, then… it was.

peace love and… stay warm!
bec