…and High School Track begins…  First official timing day is Monday.  Practice schedule?  Check.  Meet Schedule?  Check.  It took me back, as it often does when I’m around a bunch of high schoolers who make me feel torn between, “seems like yesterday,” and “omg I’m old.”  Back to my days of running drills in the high school hall way and getting ready for the Balwin Wallace Indoor Meets.  It was always so hard to train in the winter, but somehow back then I was semi-invincible and naive about the whole process.

I can tell who trained through the winter without even asking.  It’s evident by the ginger walking due to sore muscles and the obvious lack of knowledge of cold weather gear…red fingers…pink ears.  I get it.  I understand.  It sucks to run in the winter.

My heroes are the runners who, even when they don’t have to, continue to train outdoors throughout the winter.  Especially this winter.  I am not one of them.

I used to be.  The memories of running outside in shorts in the dead of winter, thinking it comical that my legs were reddish-purple after a few miles, aren’t that distant of a memory.  However, in my older years I’d like to think I’ve become wiser.

Learning from my life experiences, I now know that if I can’t ride a bike without crashing horribly, or run downhill with my jogging stroller without crashing horribly, chances are running on an icy surface would end badly for me.

Plus, I like the break…until the break’s over and I’m puking after the first 2 miles I try to run during the first good thaw.  I have less overuse injuries and I’m mentally fresh-but Ugh…how easy it is to forget how hard it is to get into shape again.

Anymore, I only run the local 5K circuit here every year, which revolves around which island or lake town the race is in.  This close to post-childbirth on #2…I’m just thankful to be back out on the road again.

Here’s to you, winter runners.  You may be faster than me in April, but I might be passing you by September.

And here’s to you, spring starters…may the puking pass quickly.

Happy Track Season!

 

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Racing with the girls at the PIB 5K

The double jogger makes its debut at the PIB 5K

I said I’d never do it.  That’s an immediate jinx, but I said it anyway.  Over, and over, and over again.  I will not run with a jog stroller.  Why?

1.  I am a klutz, and the thought of the inevitable injuries terrifies me.

2.  I am a klutz.

3.  Running is my time…in the morning…before my house erupts in chaos…my time.

It’s been so long since my last entry because since then I’ve given birth to my second daughter via my second C-Section…and been “blessed” with a crash course in the reality of my new day to day life.  2 months in, I ordered a double jogger.  What, you ask, made me give up “my time” and take my chances with being a klutz to succumb to the baby jogger scene?

1.  There’s no such thing as “my time” anymore.  And if I thought I knew what a chaotic house was before, I was clearly fooling myself.

2.  It’s the only way I can carve time out of the day to run.  Sometimes, it’s 4pm before I finally get out for a run.

Many  times I’ve asked myself why I run.  It hurts, it’s painful…agonizing…and as redundant as this very statement.   Who ever thought I might not have the time to cause myself a little more pain every day?  Rather, not be allowed to.  Unbelievably ironic.

Thankfully, my #2 is a beautiful healthy baby, who’s loud just like her big sister…and her mommy.  (For anyone that knows me…we all knew that would be the gene I would pass down.)  Having a 2 year old and recovering from surgery with an infant all at the same time means, for me, a popped stitch about 4 weeks in, and instead of a 6 week wait to start running I began to stare down an 8…at best.

Do you know how HARD it is to sit still when all you want to do is sprint out the door and down the road without a watermelon growing out of your stomach?  It sucks.  I started falling into worse shape than I was the day my daughter was born. (I’d been reduced to a brisk 2 mile walk every morning…but it was something.)  Relax and recover?  Ha ha, yep, OK.  I mentioned I had a 2 year old, right?  Bless her heart, she’s a great kid and hilarious…but still 2.  She got tired of running circles around me 2 days in.

I taught her to run…everywhere.  Kid never walked.  Crawled…then ran.  It was a fun little game we played all the time.  I encouraged it.  Just like her hilarious habit of hugging trees…even wooden fence poles that once were trees.  (We never thought that would stick.)  There’s no possible way to reverse it now that I have a second child to contend with instead of darting after my first.  Adds to the challenge.  (Note to parents…if you think you might have more….let them walk.)

Thankfully, we help out with our high school cross country team, which allows her to run and have a pack of people to chase her down.  Now, when she takes off (in the grocery store, at Cedar Point, at the park, at the mall…) she asked me to cheer her on.  “Mommy tell me go! go! go!” I’m pretty sure the general public overseeing this madness thinks I’m teaching her to run away or something.  Gotta love her enthusiasm…please be a runner….please be a runner.

Now’s the part where I tell you all is great with the jogger, and running, and everything else, right?  Ha ha ha.

The jogger is great.  The day it came in the mail I ripped it out of the box and put it together immediately.  Ahhhh.  The smell of sweet freedom, I thought.  The next day I ran the girls down to XC practice, feeling free as a bird, and finally not like my guts were going to fall out of my stomach.  (Major plus.)  I thought to myself, “they’ve made a stroller that’s ‘Megan proof.”  Up the walking bridge and down the hill to the park.  Almost there.  Here comes the team running up behind me.  Like any runner, I picked up the pace and tried as hard as I could to look like it was easy.  Then, crash.  The front wheel went one way and we stopped in our tracks.  Crap.  My 10 minutes of glory came to a crashing halt.  Well, no one was hurt.  And that was my ‘crash’ course in why to lock the front swivel wheel while running…especially fast, and especially downhill.

After I called in a favor to my dad we were back on the road soon after the wheel had been reattached and realigned…the only thing hurt being my pride.  I really am a klutz.

Fast forward a month later and we raced in our first 5K, me and the girls together.  It was a blissful moment, full of pride that I was back on the road…until the first hill.  OK, that’s hard with 2 kids.  Then, lots of hills.  “I don’t remember this course being so hilly….”  I thought.  Oh, why not add some wind?  It’s fall.  Fall is windy.  We’re right on Lake Erie.  Pack it on.

I finished, clocking my slowest ever 5K time.  And that’s how life is now.  It may not be pretty or fast, but I get that run in every other day and it feels great…until I take my headphones off and both of my daughters scream me back into reality.  The last episode ended in the older one completely unfastening herself, and then began to do the same to her sister.  When asked why, she matter of factly stated, “Mommy, she was mad.”  Ugh.

Once again, running is therapeutically guiding me through another stage in my life.  The stay-at-home-work-from-home-life-with-2-kids-and-little-adult-conversation-which-can-be-very-isolating-stage.  This lesson?  Baby Steps & Patience….and a glass of Merlot at the end of the day.  🙂

I’ll bet when I race without 2 kids and a jogger I’ll pick up some time….but I have a feeling this will be some funny shit to talk about for pretty much the rest of my life.

Happy Strides.


St. John, USVI

Need to relax? Hug a palm tree. St. John, USVI

“Relax!”

I remember getting in trouble with the Seniors my first year of high school distance running for being a heal stepper,  and for racing my teammates at the end of almost every run even through college.  Maybe I was just a crappy at setting a pace, but I just liked to get out and go.  Funny how it’s come to benefit me now as a mom.  I only have limited time each morning to run and stretch, so I just bust out my 2 mile route as fast as I can every day.  May not be the most efficient way to train, but so far I’ve gotten my 5K down to 20:10 that way.

Having only a little time to focus on training each day has helped my stride, too.  I’ve learned to relax.

It may sound out of the ordinary to tell runners to relax, but it’s the key element in stride efficiency.  The more relaxed and focused you are, the faster you go.  The more you fight your stride, the less efficient you’re going to be.

On race day, a runner’s mind is consumed with weather elements, hydration, eating, stretching, warming up, visualizing the course…It’s too late at that point to concentrate on improving your stride.  By the time you hit the start line, you should be able to depend on it just like those long Sunday runs you’ve put in the bank.

Training and practice are for just that…training and practice.  Not just for endurance and speed, but also to perfect your stride. Don’t have time for a serious training regimen?  Here are some time-and injury-saving tid bits I’ve picked up along the way.

Feet.

Obvious one, right?  Do the paper test sometime, and see if you need inserts or specialized shoes to straighten out your landing.  A straighter stride can pick up a lot of time in a race.  Maybe you over or under-pronate as many runners do.  Or, maybe you have fallen arches.  All of these things can be fixed by wearing proper running shoes and sometimes, if needed, shoe inserts.  It will really help, but beware…sometimes a change can cause a different kind of injury in your knee or hip.  This is because there are certain muscles getting worked out in new directions.  Decrease your mileage for a little bit to allow your legs to adjust to the realignment.

Ankles.

Maybe not as obvious as feet, but ankles can be a stride breaker.  I, for one, suffer from Trick Ankle Syndrome (yes I made that up).  Randomly, I’ll come down on the side of my ankle/foot instead of the bottom of my foot, sometimes causing a light sprain.  It’s not an uncommon injury amongst runners, especially those who take to trails or grassy cross country courses.  Wish that was my excuse, but it’s not…I trip on flat pavement.    To correct this, do ankle ABC’s.  Trace the alphabet with your ankles while you’re sitting at your desk or watching TV at night.  Strong ankles = less ankle injuries.

Shins.

We’ve all had them, but how do they affect your stride other than causing you to sit out your favorite workouts and hilly runs?  Strengthen them.  Tap your toes on the ground while you sit at your desk or watch TV.  When you get shin splints, be diligent about icing and stretching them.  Freeze some ice in a paper cup you can peel back and rub on your shins, as opposed to bags of ice.  It will cover the area more efficiently.

Knees.

Make sure you are stretching your IT band, the band of muscle that runs from your knee to your hip.  It can be excruciatingly painful when it gets overused, so pay attention to it before it happens if you can.  Standing up, cross your right leg over your left and lean to your right side.  Hold it for 30 seconds and then switch sides.  Another little trick:  when you stretch out your quads standing and holding one foot, be sure to hold your foot with the opposite hand to protect your knees.

Core.

It’s not just a yoga thing.  A strong core of ab muscles helps guide your stride, and decrease wasted movement when you are fatigued.  It’s not something you need to do a million crunches to achieve, either.  Concentrate on using your abs to guide your stride by picturing your legs and arms being anchored to, and controlled by, your core.  When you’re not running, concentrate on using your core to hold good posture while sitting, standing, and walking.  Crunches are good, too, depending on how serious your training regimen is.  However, not necessary for a strong core.  Try yoga a couple times a week, even just to pick up some good tips to carry with you and apply to your daily run.

Arms.

Arms weigh in huge on how efficient your stride is.  When you are running, your arms should be working just as hard as your legs.  Although not carrying the full weight of your body, as your legs do, your arms are guiding them.  They dictate speed and length of stride.  Lifting weights and doing push ups/pull ups are good ways of strengthening your arms.  Depending on how serious your training regimen is, you can give your arms a good enough workout on your daily run to stay tone.  Pay attention to them when you’re running.  What are they doing?  Fiddling with your ipod?  Drive your arms when you’re running!  Play around with them to find what’s most comfortable for you, and how efficiently they can speed up the rest of your stride when you increase your arm motion.

Head.

Besides housing the mental warrior that leads you to and through your next run, your head in the physical sense can be the biggest nuisance to your stride.  You can tell a struggling runner from a mile away by how their head is bouncing around like a bobblehead doll.  That’s a lot of wasted energy.  Calm down.  Relax your neck and look straight ahead (keep bumps and cracks in view…if you’re anything like me you trip over them half the time anyway…).

There.  Now that your feet are fixed and running straight, your ankles and shins are strong, your knees are stretched, your core is strong, your arms are driving, and your head is straight you can run more efficiently.  Simple as that, right?  Why else do we run so much?  Other than to gain endurance, it’s also to strengthen and perfect our stride.

Don’t accumulate junk miles.  Make every mile count.  Work on your stride.  I, personally, don’t believe in accumulating mileage just to say that’s how much I’ve put in the bank.  It has to be effective, quality running.  Sometimes running at a snail’s pace just to go further is hampering your overall stride.

Relax.  Find your own pace, manage your stride, and you can be successful without accumulating as much mileage as you think you need.

Happy Strides!


Slouch over…you know…like you do when your mom is nagging you about your bad posture.   Take a deep breath.

Now, stand up straight and take a deep breath.  Obviously a lot easier, right?  Let’s apply that same knowledge to your running stride.

When you run slouched over, arms flailing, head bobbling, butt sticking out…you are wasting energy and adding time to the clock.  So much for a kick at the end, right?  No energy left.  It’s all been wasted on fluffy, inefficient movement.

Run straight up, arms pumping up and down, knees raising, butt tucked in, core activated, and head not moving…well, you run a lot darn faster and have energy left to kick it in.

Need further proof?  Watch an efficient sprinter run the 100.  Not a whole lot of wasted movement, there, because they don’t have time to waste on it.  Now, watch an average distance runner run the mile.  What happens on lap 3?  The head bob, the arm cross, the labored face…ugh…

Distance runners have more time to focus on the pain, but a lot of times spend less time on stride and form efficiency.  Why?  Isn’t it almost MORE important to train your body to save energy during a mile or a 5K race than a 100M?

I have an easy step to add to your workout to help you fix your stride.  Build.  Work.  Float.  They’re strides, but broken down to help you perfect your stride and enhance your kick.  I did them in high school and college, and they really helped me improve on both fronts.

The How To:

First, pick a distance.  Ideal would be 100 to 150 meters.  Find your marking points at the 50, 100, and 150 M markers.

Build.

The first 50 meters you are going to build speed.  Starting out like you would a race, not a gradual jog.  By the time you hit the 50 meter mark, you should be at your top speed.

Work.

The second 50 meters are run at top speed.  Put your head down, drive your arms, get on your toes, and run as fast as you can.  If it feels ridiculous, you’re most likely doing it right.  Pay attention to your arms, and how driving them forward in an efficient motion (waste level, not with your shoulders invading your ears or criss crossing them over your chest) very quickly helps lead your legs to pick up the pace.  Sprinting on your toes allows you to go farther faster, which is important for training your fast twitch muscles.  When you put your head down, don’t put it down so far you’re tripping over yourself.  Just adjust it enough to carry your momentum forward.

Don’t think about the distance your sprinting…it’s so small it’ll be over before you can freak out about it.  The goal here is a short burst of efficiency, so as not to lose form.  You can get your endurance speed from 400 and 200 workouts.  This is speedy speed development were working on, along with your form.  It’s a lot to think about, right?  So is a race.  Training yourself to have good form in an intense burst of speed will help maintain good form during your race.  Not to mention, the fast twitch muscles that you are activating during Build Work Floats will be ready to activate again at the end of your race.  Are you going to be able to finish your mile, 2mile, or 5K on your toes with your head down?  Uh, no, unless you completely spaced on the rest of your race and ran too slow.  It will, however, make your kick faster that it was, and it will start to make your overall pace seem more manageable.

Float. At the 100, you want to begin decelerating.  It’s call float because you don’t want to injure your legs coming to a stop too quickly after releasing all that speed.  Runner’s shins don’t need to undergo anymore unnecessary pounding.  So, float…for the whole last 50 meters.

After your done, take a full recovery and do 3 more.  Do them every day that you have a workout…or every day after form runs, but before your distance run.  You want to do them on fresh legs.

When you ‘slow down’ to run race pace, you won’t be on your toes or leaned forward with your head down.  But, hopefully, your arms will be pumping efficiently (an action that stems from a strong core), relaxing your head (no bobble-heads), extending your knees and butt tucked under.  When you get to the end, you’ll be able to drive your arms knowing that your legs are capable of following them in for a great kick.  With your core activated, shoulders down and head not bobbling around, you’ve put some energy in the bank for the end.  Ahhhh.  Doesn’t that feel better?  It’s like breathing easier.  Now, go PR.

Good luck, and happy strides!


It doesn’t seem to matter whether you run to be inspired or to inspire…either way, you’re out there on the road participating in the addiction.  Something is driving you, pushing you, to continue to cause yourself pain for the joy of the sport.  No matter how it’s put, it really is something only runners understand.

The next time you’re out on the road, think about what runners have inspired, and continue to inspire, you.  I bet you’ll find that it’s not all composed of gold medal winners and NCAA All Americans.  There’s something to be said for the pocket of the world that you live in, and who it’s hero’s are.  The stand out runner for your local high school.  The former high school teammate become Olympian.  The coach who continues to shatter records and mold champions.

This sport and these heroes carry over into your life.  Perseverance, confidence, endurance, dedication, commitment, individuality, fortitude.  All things runners have.  All things life requires.  You can learn the most, perhaps, from your running shoes.

Why do I run?

Mom, Brianne, and I at the Lighthouse 5K 2009

I started running in high school because I was inspired by the Summer Olympics (I was a dancer for 15 years.), and have since accumulated a cloud of runners and coaches who inspire me the most.  Pre, Shalane FlanaganMichael Johnson,Val Waugaman, Nick Cordes, Katie McGregor…but one takes the cake.  My mom.

My biggest fan in high school, running along the track screaming and video-taping at the same time, I literally had to race her on the track one night to prove to her that she could not outrun me in that last stretch of the mile.  Mom began running, herself, and we’ve raced a summer circuit of 5K’s together ever since.

My mom races with rheumatoid arthritis .  Though she might be constantly disappointed in her race times, I continue to be amazed that she’s even out there racing.   No matter how much pain I seem to be in out there, I push through…because my body still allows me to.  You never know how many miles you have left in your running shoes.   An important lesson I’ve carried over into the rest of my life.

I hope my daughter to joins on the road someday, because we inspire her, too.  I just signed her up for her first 1 mile fun run in May.  She’s 2…watch…she’ll be the dancer.

Why do YOU run?


Yep, it’s true.  Smartphones officially run our lives. Now, we’re taking them running with us?

Don’t be embarrassed…it’s totally practical, and not just for the given safety reasons it provides.

Ever get lost on a run?  GPS!

Need to know where the nearest water stop is?  What to earn some Foursquare points on the go?

There are a ton of runners who run with their phones to track time and distance rather than a watch.  A lot of times, that same phone is also their ipod-like-device.   Check out all these running apps!  Crazy! Talk about a serious running partner!  This guy even ran Boston like this to promote a running app.  Whoa.

Anyway, to cut to the chase a friend of mine asked me this morning for recommendations on what to harbor these devices in while it’s still cold out.  Hence, the search for zipper pocket gear that’s comfortable begins.

Here you go…my picks for Smartphone holders before it’s warm enough to convert to the arm band. (since my friend’s a chica, like me, they are women’s styles…but there’s always a mirror of it on the mens side.)

Under Armour makes 2 cool ones I’d recommend.  Click here for one...here for the other.

Nick, of course, has some sweet gear.  Here’s a cool one. And another

And Adidas always makes some pretty credible stuff, too.  Try this one. Or this one.

Look at Dick’s Sporting Goods for deals on these, too, if you can’t swing the online price.  Or, sometimes I find the Champion version on the clearance rack at Target…which is always a glorious thing.  Old Navy has come a long way in their running gear, but is still hit or miss on true to size quality.

Happy Strides!


A runner can tell a lot about another runner by their running shoes.  Nike’s?  Asic’s?  Dirty?  Clean?  Worn on one side more than another?  Laces shredded?  Lucky charms attached? i pod chip installed?  Bright pink?  All black?  You get the point.

As a runner, it’s the most important piece of equipment you own.  Every step is calculated into that shoe’s ability to enhance your stride, prevent blisters, cater to your over or under pronating feet, prevent shin splints and stress fractures…  Do they let your feet breath?  Do they keep your feet warm?  Is there enough traction for your favorite woodland trail, or less to enhance speed on your favorite road race?

Running in the wrong shoe can create major havoc on your feet.  Just ask mine.  Anytime I stray away from my trusty pair of Asic 2130’s they cry and ache in protest. It can take years to find just the right shoe.  Just like it can take years to find just the right rhythm in your stride.

So, how do you pick the right shoe?  Put the blinders on and feel the road…or trail…or track…

Which pair makes your feet smile.

What running shoe are you?


Ha ha, just kidding…obviously there’s some value to your eyes gracing my (b)log with your presence otherwise I wouldn’t have made it so readily visible.  This is a side project for me, because I’m pregnant and can’t hit the road myself right now.  My usual daily 2-miler on the shores of the Great Mother Erie have been replaced by obnoxious work out DVD’s.  It’s more than disheartening.  Running isn’t just about the workout for me, or even for training for a particular race or distance.  It’s the only time I don’t have to multitask the multitude of thoughts, lists, chores, meals, diapers, potty times, laundry, grocery runs, and whatever else the day brings.  Being a mom is a lot harder without that 2 miler every morning as the sun comes up.  In that 2 miles, I can blast my music at an unsafe level again…take in the gorgeous view of my lake town without keeping tabs or entertaining my little one, and just do what I love…run.

I don’t know why, but runners do.  The more it hurts the better it feels.  The satisfaction as I stretch by the lake after a hard effort, taking in the sunrise and view of Cedar Point and the Huron Light House, is irreplaceable.  Which is why I’m sometimes a little extra grouchy and a little more irritable when I’m pregnant.  Well, that and I feel like an alien.

Traverse City Cherry Festival 5K

This picture was taking this past July, at the Traverse City Cherry Festival 5K.  Finally back in the summer racing circuit that I love after having the beautiful girl in the photo with me (Brianne Marie), I won a medal I let her wear during the parade that followed.  It was a cool moment in my running log.  One that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. 

I have a lot of lofty goals for this (b)log.  But  really, I just miss my sport.  I love my sport, and I love keeping in touch with my old teammates and running pals.  It’s a cool part of me, and a cool part of life. 

So connect away…and run some miles for me.

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