running

Bestest of the week

by lachicaruns on

I’ve shared my ongoing struggles with stinky clothes, but here are some ideas from fitness blogger Allie Burdick on when it’s time to let them go. I especially like her point to toss the stinky clothes instead of donating them and passing on the funk.

Sew easy tutorial (get it?)

I used to sew a lot, but my machine has recently been gathering a distinctive layer of dust. This tutorial from Colorado blogger Jennifer on Scoot a Doot for making a running skirt with a pocket may just get me back on the sewing wagon.

Source: www.scootadoot.org

Source: www.scootadoot.org

She includes a ton of photos and tips on putting on a zipper. This I’ve got to try. Please comment below if you do end up doing this project.

Foam rolling FAQs

I’ve had a foam roller since I started running, but mostly have been focusing on my piriformis muscle, which sometimes flares up even after significant improvement in the few months since I’ve been seeing Dr. Awesome.

But I really had no idea just how to use it, for how long or that I could use it to work on specific spots without rolling on it back and forth.

This Women’s Running magazine tutorial rocks, with specific tips on rolling different parts of your body, including tips on duration and just how much pressure to apply.

Back to basics

Speaking of making progress on my piriformis problems, I hadn’t been taking very good care of myself in the weeks leading up to my favorite 18-year-old’s graduation party and had started feeling some of the symptoms returning.

Dr. Awesome was nice enough to nudge me to return to my good-doobie ways, so I’m back on the wagon, with a focus on cross training, stretching, doing yoga and strengthening my core.

Loving this piece from Runner’s World magazine with some specific exercises to do just that, plus this power yoga video from @omgal Rebecca Pacheco. I did the yoga sequence yesterday with my favorite 15-year-old and didn’t die. That in and of itself gets two enthusiastic thumbs up.

Chasing your shadow

I’ve caught my shadow on some runs and it looks like I’m the Hunchback of Notre Dame. That’s apparently a good sign that I need to work on my running form, according to this piece also from Women’s Running Magazine.

In her piece, running blogger Dorothy Beal shares tips on what chasing your shadow can tell you about your form, and how to fix common problems.

Did you find any gems this week? What kind of things do you want to read about in future Bestest of the week posts? 

 

 

Trust the plan

by lachicaruns on

I don’t mean to brag, but I ran to Neptune and back today.

But I’ll get to that in a minute.

I was supposed to run 13 miles with my friend Brandess last week, but a little thunder and lightning intervened and we had to scrap our plan. She had a family commitment today, so I met up with Team Playmakers at Hawk Island Park instead.

I tagged along with the 12- to 13-minute milers, but no one else seemed to be running more than four or five miles. Shy little me paired up with a woman, Sally, whose pace met mine and struck up a conversation that would take us a bit beyond Potter Park Zoo, along the Lansing River Trail.

The temps were in the 50s, with partly cloudy skies and the trails were full of bikers and runners. I felt like I could run forever.

Sally and I chatted, as runners do, and the miles flew. We went out three and I ran her back to Hawk Island, made a quick pit stop and headed back out for another seven by myself.withsally

All was good with my boys Eminem, Pitbull, Mana and Enrique Iglesias in my ear. I made sure to fuel, downing some SportBeans, drank water and a bit of Gatorade throughout.

I even spotted Uranus (that’s what she said!) and Neptune, part of the city’s Planet Walk.

IMG_4578

 

Neptune

It wasn’t until mile 11 that I started to look at my watch. Really look at my watch. Wow. This is a long run.

My legs felt heavy and I slowed down a little. I watched for critters (saw a bunch of geese, chipmunks and a snake) to amuse myself. 11.5 miles. I thought I was closer.

By mile 12, I was using every trick in my bag to keep myself focused and moving. I knew I could finish since, after all, I did 12 miles just two weeks ago. And if I could do 12, I could certainly do 13.

That’s when the doubts started creeping in. How will I get through 14, 15 and so on in the coming weeks? If I’m struggling with 13, can I eventually do 26? What was I thinking?!

None of my tricks were working and I was psyching myself out. I knew I would finish, but I felt deflated.

Until I had a very vague thought: Trust the plan.

Hal Higdon’s plan got me through my first half marathon. He can certainly get me through 26.2 miles. (Well, that and God’s grace.)

And that was it. My legs were still leaden, but my spirit felt light. I could see the Team P coaches waiting for stragglers like me right across the lake.

Trust the plan. Trust the plan. Trust the plan.

My new mantra was born.

And I made it to 13.1 miles with a smile on my face.Garmin shot

13erdone

Do you have a mantra? Does your city have a planet walk? How many miles did you go today?

NOTE: I ran 13.1 miles as part of the Skirt Sports #13er. The company gave me a discounted rate on the virtual race entry. All opinions are my own.

 

 

 

I hadn’t run this far — let alone by myself — since last August. Nine miles.

I set my gear out before I went to bed last night, leaving nothing to chance. I set my alarm for 6 and a second for 6:15, just in case.

I got up right away, ready to go. The rain that was promised never materialized as I headed to the trail right off of this weekend’s camping location at Yankee Springs Recreation Area.

IMG_4357I started at a very comfortable 12:30 pace, thinking good, happy thoughts on the very soft, flat leaf-covered trail. I remembered bug spray this time, so I was in my zone almost immediately, thoroughly enjoying the trees, flowers, birds and other critters. So much so that I didn’t even turn my music on for the first three miles or so.IMG_4359

Until the first hill. Then the second. And, whoa, there are a lot of hills.

But I kept at it all the while watching out for the tree roots, mud and fallen tree trunks. This trail running is HARD. But, oh so fun.

Having learned some lessons in the past year, I also brought an iPod for music to save my phone’s battery life and an external charger, in case I just had to have my Pitbull, Eminem and Daddy Yankee. Which I eventually did.

I took a picture of the trail map, so I checked it as I made my way through the Long Lake Trail. And again when I no longer saw signs pointing me to Long Lake. Um.IMG_4356

Let’s just say I took the scenic route and got to see Graves Hill, as well as the Hall Lake Trail.

No complaints here as I actually ran out of trail before I finished my run. At about 6.5 miles, I figured I could run to the corner gas station near the campground to pick up a couple of things for lunch, as we’d invited family friends to picnic with us.

Having purchased turkey and mayo packages chosen for their smaller size, I ran back to our campsite, stuck both in the fridge and ran the last mile around the just-waking-up campground.

What’s the longest you’ve run on a trail? Why do we do this to ourselves? Did you enter my Skirt Sports giveaway yet?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rules for runners

by lachicaruns on

I previously shared tips from Bianca Guess, a Lansing, Mich., based fitness instructor and certified running coach through the USA Track and Field Association, on how to become a warm pretzel before you go out for a run.

You thought those were awesome? (I know I did!) Well, here are her rules for runners, interspersed with some of my commentary:

1. Know your body. Pay attention to what works and how your body responds to your movements. It may take some trial and error before you find what makes sense for you.

2. Know your schedule. If you’re not a morning person, perhaps you should schedule your runs for later in the day. But make sure to try different things until you find what works best for you.

3. Warm up with dynamic exercises. I shared photos of Guess demonstrating 10 easy dynamic stretches for runners.IMG_3728

4. Have a running plan. Decide whether you’re going to do walk/run intervals (such as the Galloway Method), how long you’re going to run, when and where. But be flexible. Real life may get in the way. Also, include easy days to allow time for recovery, especially after a race or a tough workout.

Don’t forget to include some cross training (I like yoga, walking and Jillian Michaels DVDs) to balance your body and avoid over-use injuries.

5. Keep it fresh. Whether it’s spending time with running buddies; changing your route, scenery or music playlist; or even getting new gear, invest in something that will keep you motivated.

I know that I can’t wait to get out on the road when I have new gear, especially if it’s something that I’ve had my eye on for a while, whether that’s a new watch or a running skirt.

6. Know your pace. It took me a couple of years and lots of looking at my Nike+ app, but I now can keep a relatively steady pace, depending on whether it’s a shorter, faster run or a longer, slower run.

Many races have official pacers who can keep you honest, leaving you with one less thing to worry about.

7. Strength train. Runners who only run often get hurt. That’s why Guess recommends both cross training and strength training, especially core work.

Another bonus is that all of this work will help make you a better runner. When she trains her clients, Bianca uses compound and body-weight movements.

8. Practice. Know the secret to running faster? Running faster. Yeah, Guess suggests speed work to get our bodies used to it and to build endurance.

Same thing goes for running farther. You have to include some longer runs in your training. You can find many running plans online; I used the Hal Higdon half marathon training plan for novice runners, which takes your long run from four miles to 10 miles over 12 weeks.

There you have it. Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced runner, Guess gives great advice to stay fit, motivated and moving. If you want to work with her, or want to learn more about her services, contact her at bianca.guess1@gmail.com.

Have you ever worked with a running coach? What should be added to this list of rules? Which rule do you break the most?

La chica is what one would have called a “tomboy” growing up. At least for a Puerto Rican.

So the idea of running in a skirt was laughable … until it wasn’t. My running friend Brandess had been singing the praises of the Skirt Sports gear. And she, unlike me, always looks put together when I see her out on the trails.

I’m talking so put together that she could go have just come from running errands, not running a 20-miler. I, on the other hand, look like I’ve run an ultramarathon over a three-day weekend, even when all I’ve run is three miles.

And, she promised, the shorts under these skirts don’t shift around. OK, this I’ve got to see. So I finally ordered my very first Skirt Sports Happy Girl skirt in black. I’ve had it for weeks, but it’s been too cold in the Michigan tundra to take it for a spin. That is, until today (cue overly dramatic music).

The afternoon sky was blue with a few fluffy white clouds, but a strong wind. The temperature hovered around 50 degrees by the time I got out to the Michigan State University campus.Red Cedar Spartan Stadium

The skirt and the 7-inch built-in semi-compression shorties (think running tights) felt snug but not tight. The skirt fabric flows and moves easily; I thought I might find it annoying as it moved, but I didn’t even notice it there.

Bonus: You can go commando because of the way the shorties are structured. Translation: No wedgie! Ta-da! Plus, the skirt covers you enough that wearing the Happy Girl feels modest, but not, well, old.

I like the length of the shorties, too, as I suspect they’ll help avoid thigh-chafing issues in the much-longer and much-hotter summer runs as I train for my second half marathon, now that I have a better idea of what to expect.

Huge love, too, for two generously sized pockets built into the shorties, plus a zippered pocket in the back that could easily fit keys and a driver’s license. I like to bring a lot of luggage highly necessary things like an external charger for my iPhone, which inevitably dies on me leaving me Marc Anthony-less.

My previous running skirt experience was quite the dud, which might explain why it took me so long to trust Brandess on this one. Sorry, my friend. I won’t doubt you again!

I should note that I bought this skirt before I was chosen as a Skirt Sports ambassador and that all opinions are my own. Also, I’ve since ordered additional items on my own dime so I don’t look like a wreck when I run on an upcoming vacation.

And because I have no friends…or no friends who can run immediately after work on Mondays and Wednesdays, I had my favorite 15-year-old shoot some pictures of me in my falda when we got home later.

Happy Girl skirtSee my smile? I like it, I really like it!

So, will you convert to skirt?

What’s your favorite of running gear you initially thought would be a dud? Do you look like a fresh flower or a Tasmanian devil after your runs?