Guest Post: Have Your Best Run Yet!

I love Clever Training (send me an email to get a code for 10% off!) and buy lots of my training gear from them. Many people know about their awesome selection of running, triathlon, and training gear, but most people don’t know that Clever Training also hosts a great blog with training tips, fun stories, and information about the latest gear. When Ron, the CT Blog guy reached out to me about doing a guest post, I was super excited. I love reading the CT Blog and thought that you would, too. Here’s his post, a set of great tips for having your best run yet. Thanks, Ron!

Have Your Best Run Yet

Any dedicated runner knows that the key to having an amazing run depends on many factors. Perhaps most importantly, it starts with your mentality. Here are a few ways that you can pump yourself up and prepare yourself for your best run yet:

Recognize Negative Thinking

Many runners know that the body can be perfectly capable, but if the mind is not thinking positively, it can have a huge impact on the quality of your run. The trick is to recognize negative thoughts and remember that you have control over them. When a negative thought wanders through your mind, call upon a cue word or song that replaces the negativity with something positive. Focus on the pumping of your arms or your breathing, and you might be surprised at how much easier your run becomes.

Wear the Right Gear

Those shoes you bought for 20 dollars may have been a steal, but you aren’t doing your feet any favors. In order to keep your feet going for long distances, you will need to spend a little more to find the right shoe that is properly insulated. In addition, consider switching from cotton shirts and shorts to moisture-wicking workout clothes. This will help keep the sweat from sticking to your body and turning cold quickly. Having the right workout gear for your runs will allow you to go further distances in comfort.

Learn Proper Breathing

Many long-distance runners make the mistake of breathing too much. This deprives your lungs of oxygen because you are not getting all of the CO2 out of your lungs. Your lungs need oxygen to power you through those distances, so slowing down your breathing will relax you and fully give your lungs the oxygen they need, making running slightly easier. If you get a stitch in your side, matching your stride to your breath will help ease the pain.

Stop Setting Rigid Goals

Setting goals can be good for running, but if your goals are too rigid, then it can fill your mind with a defeatist attitude when you know you are failing to hit that goal. If this happens, don’t focus on the failure to meet your goal. Instead, have back-up goals. For instance, if you set a goal to run nine miles and know that you won’t make it by mile four, set a mini-goal of reaching eight miles instead. Change your self-talk be more positive, and it will help keep you motivated rather than having you want to give up in frustration.

Use Others as Motivation, Not Comparison

Theodore Roosevelt once said that “comparison is the thief of joy,” and this is true in the running world. There is always going to be someone faster than you or who can go longer distances, and this is something that everyone should accept. Instead of getting down about this, use that person as a source of motivation for your next run. Acknowledge that you are only competing against yourself, and that’s all that matters for your enjoyment.

On Feet, Spurs, and Pain

If you’ve been following along, my mom is my best running friend and my favorite race partner. She’s always ready for fun, and willing to try any new race or event. We love racing together.

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Lately, mom has been on injured reserve, taking some time off due to injury. As much as I missed my race buddy, I was sorry to see her hurt and missing what she loved. In this post, my mom shares her experience of diagnosis and treatment for a heel spur, including the dreaded cortisone shot.

Mom says:

In August, I began to notice a slight pain in my right heel as if I had stepped on a stone with bare feet. I put it off as too many days walking on paved surfaces training for a half marathon. A day off I thought would rest the foot and I could continue on. The next days were a succession of off and on days and no relief for the heel tenderness.

In September, I headed to Michigan to visit family. Although I took all my workout clothes and shoes, I could not walk a mile. Research led me to think the culprit plantar fasciitis so I ordered new shoes, compression socks, and various shoe inserts. I tried a few foot exercises half heartedly. Nothing seemed to help. I bought more inserts, this time from Dr Scholl, that had cushioning since just wearing a shoe was painful
When I returned home, I called my general practitioner and got an appointment. By then, walking to the mailbox was a teeth gritting event. She took x-rays, a heel spur was the culprit of the pain.

Next stop was a podiatrist who reviewed the x-rays. She pointed out that I had arthritis in both big toes (suck it up, Buttercup), a spur on my right heel, and another on the bottom of my foot. The spur on the back of my heel was causing no discomfort unlike the one on the bottom of my foot. Plantar fasciitis untreated probably caused the spur to develop. Her plan to “get me back out there” was a shot of cortisone, prescription Meloxicam, foot exercises, and a night time foot brace.

I had heard the horror stories about cortisone shots but was pleasantly surprised when a topical numbing spray was first applied prior to the injection. Pressure but no pain. The injection site would be tender for several days, but that was minor compared to the relief. My heel would feel odd for several days as if a wad of cotton had been shoved under the skin. Not numb, but pain free heel area made life better.

Now the end of November and I’m headed back for a check up. I have been following the exercise plan, taking the Meloxicam, and feeling much better. I added air plus gel orthotic shoe inserts to my shoes. The gel inserts are superior cushioning for my heel area, better than any other brand I have tried , and I’ve tried almost everything out there. I replaced all my walking and running shoes and am trying new types that offer more arch support. I am more careful of the miles on the shoes and the type of miles, replacement cost is minor compared to the months of pain. It feels great to be back out, even short distances. Although not running yet, I hope to soon.

Guest Blog: Jack’s Gear

Men, are you feeling left out by my focus on women’s running gear? Not to worry, today’s guest blog from my running friend, Jack, deals with the important issue of men’s running gear. Here’s his advice…

Rachel promised I could be a guest blogger sometime so here goes.  I really thought it would be a race report, but here in the middle of winter….albeit a warm one, no races until the end of the month.  So instead, I have been excited by Rachels’ detailed notes on her winter running gear, so I wanted to make sure everyone can get the benefit of my vast experience also.

This item is a heavy cotton sweatshirt that I have used for over 20 years.  You can see already the timeless styling, color and of course the durability of such an item.  But there is much more.  Wearing this ensures you will accumulate nearly all of the sweat you produce during a run and increase your weight by as much as a pound or two during a long run, making for a weight reducing sauna type workout.  This is accomplished best if accompanied by an underlayer of a cotton race shirt from the same era (editor’s note: I have personally witnessed this phenomenon on numerous runs thanks to Jack’s extensive collection of race shirts).

But there are several  hugely compelling reasons you might acquire something like this in your running wardrobe.  First of all it is so indestructible you could reasonably bushwhack through field of prickers (we did this on Wednesday) ) with little no ill effect to the fabric……come to think of it, even if it did there would be little change to the overall look.  In fact wearing this, one could take on nearly any outdoor project including painting, roofing, ditch digging….all would only add to the patina of history the garment acquires.  Furthermore if you find you left this behind after a run, rest assured, no one will steal it.  It will likely still be there next week, or whenever you remember it.

But best of all……the cost.  This kind of garment is either free or close to it.  I nearly guarantee there is already one at the bottom of your drawer that was given to you at some point…..possibly it has undesirable logos or dated wording on it…..like “New England Patriots”….or maybe “1984 Los Angeles Olympics”…no matter….it works just as well inside out.  If by some chance you do not own something like this and want one……simply show up at any fall marathon, and hang around at the one mile mark.  I guarantee you can pick up several of equal quality……as long as you can outrun the clean up crew.

Guest Blog: Walking My First 5k

Are you thinking of walking, jogging, or running your very first 5k? In this guest post, my mom shares her advice and the story of her first 5k. Here’s her experience…

This past fall, I walked in my first 5k. What I had hoped would be a test of how far I had come, was an test of grit thanks to a fall and knee injury earlier in the week. Cane in hand, I was determined to compete, even if it was just to finish.

The South Foster RI race (Dr. Rachel’s note – Fall Foliage 5k) was held on a wonderful partly cloudy day in the countryside. My daughter and I arrived about an hour and a half early to check in and get our race bibs. Volunteers were on hand to direct parking and the way registration desk. There was a bit of a line as the race allowed same day registration, but it went quickly. A map of the race was posted, but being directionally challenged, it was of little help to me. Number, safety pins. and a race shirt were handed out to each registrant. I learned the shirt was not to be worn during the race (only dullards do that) but the number was to be affixed with all 4 pins to my front. Next stop was the bathrooms and another line which got only longer the nearer to the start of the race. The time went by very quickly and we had only a bit of extra time to warm up and stretch before the start.

The start area was for both the 5k and 10k, walkers and runner alike. Runners moved to the front and walkers to the rear where we arranged ourselves with the swiftest in front. Cane left in the car (a bit of vanity took over) I was at the very back of the walkers and on the right side of the pack, the slow lane. I need not have worried about the course directions, volunteers were at each turn directing participants and signs and mile markers were posted as well. A water station, on the right, had cups with cool water and a bit beyond, a trash can. I appreciated that several volunteers from the sidelines asked if I need help, but generally left me to limp along. I also had a couple runners pass, asking as well, not breaking their stride. Glad I was far to the right as several large groups ran by.

The countryside was just beautiful with grazing horses and sheep, an old dog watching from the end of a driveway. I wished I’d brought my phone to take pictures. The track was “New England flat”, some on pavement and some on dirt road. The end was up a hill and through a roped chute where volunteers awaited to take a tear off from the bib to record time. I had read in a runners’ magazine to enter a race because “you won’t be last”. The only reason I was not last, dead last, was my daughter let me go first. No one cheered any less or made me feel bad, quite the opposite. I had done it, gritted teeth, limp, and all.

Burgers and hot dogs awaited finishers and picnic tables were scattered about. We ate with a couple of runners who told us about another beautiful race course we should put on our list. Runners, walkers, kids, all mingled and talked about their time or the course, enjoying the occasion.

No one even mentioned my less than stellar performance.

I have entered another race and will take what I learned from this one:
1. Arrive early, the bigger the race, the more time needed.
2. Check your shirt before you leave the registration desk and don’t be afraid to ask for a different size. You might not be able to exchange it, but it never hurts to ask.
3. Find the bathrooms early, the closer to the start, the longer the line.
4. Line up at the start according to your ability, and be honest with yourself, slower people to the back. If you are slower, stay to the right of the pack.
5. Take advantage of the beverages along the route.
6. Don’t assume the limping or stopped participant needs help; ask, but respect the reply.
7. Finishing the race is a great goal, sometimes the time is not that important. One person’s personal best may be different than yours.
8. All finishers need to hear the cheer.
9. It’s ok to be last or next to last, there are no lasting effects from this.

I know with certainty that I will have a new personal best, that I will finish, and I will meet some pretty neat people.
See you there!