Morning Run: Pros and Cons

Pros:

Beach Road Bliss

Beach Road Bliss

  • No dodging other runners or cyclists- especially before 7am.
  • If it’s summertime, you beat the heat and humidity before it slowly smothers you to death.
  • You’ve already accomplished something for the day! Yay!
  • Seriously, everything else is down hill after this.
  • You’re up and out the door before your body really knows its awake, and definitely before it knows it’s running.
  • It makes Second Breakfast taste extra delicious.
  • You can watch the sunrise! Which is magical, I think.

Cons:

Trash Pick-Up!

Tip: Don’t follow the garbage truck when you run.

  • Sometimes its Trash Day.
  • Sweating so early in the morning isn’t my favorite.
  • If it’s winter, it’s absolutely freezing in the mornings.
  • Do you know how hard it is to wake up before the sun rises? This should be worth 4 bullet points because mornings are hard.
  • Nobody will notice if I go missing until 10 hours later when everyone returns home from work…everyone except me.
  • Sometimes First Breakfast doesn’t stay down as well as it should.
  • Guest Post: I’m not fully awake if I workout in the morning, so I can’t give it my all. Overachiever.

Confession

Today, my workout was a life saver. It saved someone’s life.

You ever get in a bad mood and just can’t get out of it? Where you can think of zero nice things and your patience is nonexistent and everything is stupid? That was my life for a few hours. And it was terrible. I didn’t even work out because I wanted to, I was invited to and agreed to go, and I’m so glad I did. Actually, the public should be glad I did.

I came out a completely different person. A hungrier, sweatier, less-homicidal version of myself. Thank you, workout, for saving the life of some poor, unsuspecting soul.

 

The Slump Buster

So a little while ago I was running sprint intervals (because jogging makes me sad) and was overcome by an intense pain in my stomach. So much so that a bunch of strangers stopped to ask if I was okay and offered to walk me back to my house. I was fine within a few minutes, but it scared me out of running. So I didn’t run for a while. And then I went away for a long weekend, so I didn’t run for a while. And then I was trying to get back into my daily work/life routine, so I didn’t run for a while. And then I went away again. So here I am…still not running.

Something’s got to be done. When I don’t run I don’t write, and I’d really like to write. Also, when I run I look dead sexy, so I’d like to keep that up (*Insert sarcasm font here). I’m going to try something to get me out of this slump, it’s called The Slump Buster. Because there’s got to be a way out. “Slump” is kind of a gross word, but the effects of not running are kind of grosser.

To help find a way out of this slump, I took to The Google. Some advice is more applicable to my life than others, for instance the #1 thing is usually: Rest or Take a Few Days Off!! Well, if we’re being honest, I’ve been doing a little too much of that.

So here’s my solution: Run just a little bit. Just put my stupid shoes on and walk out the door, then keep walking, maybe with a little hop, at that point I’m sure I’ll look ridiculous enough that I’ll have successfully bullied myself into actually running for real. Even if it’s only for a mile. At least it will be a fast mile and a short mile and the first mile I’ll have done in weeks. This Slump Buster is scheduled for 6:30am tomorrow.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Darrin Says: IT Band Syndrome

Question: When running, what could be causing pain on the outside, lower portion of my knee? It’s painful while bending, and when my foot strikes the ground. Could this be my IT band?

Darrin: Yup, it sounds like IT Band Syndrome. This is hard because it’s not really a muscle , it’s just one long stretch of fibers, like a tendon, that runs down the outside of your thigh and connects to the outside of your knee. Sure, it’s important because it helps with stabilization, but it can really get in the way sometimes.

If you can, minimize activity with it and stretch the entire leg–foam roll your side from the knee up to the top of the hip. You need to strengthen your hip muscles. You have pain at the knee, but it’s the hip muscles that are the problem. The hamstrings attach by the knee as well, so again it is important to stretch the entire leg.

This is a video demonstrating some butt stretches that will work well for loosening up the hip area. If you need to, modifying these stretches is perfectly fine; I know I’m not as flexible as this girl!

Here’s a video demonstrating strengthening exercises. If you don’t have a resistance band or loop, just do more reps.

Having a basic understanding of our anatomy is important, not just for injuries, but for maintaining a healthy body. Knowledge such as this will help keep our bodies in balance, especially as we push them!

The Long and the Short of It

I like to think that, in a perfect world, we’d all feel super awesome about ourselves and embrace what we’ve got. I mean, we’re all different, we might as well own it.

Here’s what I’ve got: long limbs. With long limbs comes great responsibility. Such as the important duty of always being the one to grab the box of cereal from the top shelf in the cabinet. Or being volunteered to reach behind the couch for that thing that dropped back there. I’m also very good at carrying surfboards (although riding them is still a work in progress) because my arms are more than long enough to grab the bottom of the board while I walk. Let’s not forget my ability to be the first to knock down the flower bouquet my friends throw at their weddings. These are my talents, folks.

Who's next?

Photo courtesy of T’s wedding photographer.

(I’m the one in the light pink dress and no shoes. Despite my long limbs, my bff’s passion for the bouquet was ultimately the deciding factor. She was the victor.)

Despite this impressive list of pros, there are, admittedly, a few cons to having such long limbs. It wasn’t until long shirts with long sleeves became trendy that I could successfully wear clothing that covered all parts of my body. Do you ever wear long sleeved shirts and have exposed forearms simply by raising your arms above a 45 degree angle? This is my life. I tend to be on the chilly side naturally, so shirts that expose half of my back when I do something as normal as leaning over to tie my shoe are an issue.  Then there’s the issue of maxi dresses. They are a large source of sadness for me. Did you know there’s an appropriate length for a maxi dress? Did you also know it’s not 2 inches above your ankle? (#firstworldproblems, I know.) Determined to turn these challenges into opportunities, I try to move beyond my fashion woes and put my energy into something more positive.

I’m looking for ways to apply the previously discussed life skills (bouquet catching, anyone?) to my workout regime. It makes sense that I would be good at some things (excluding sit and reach: long arms + long legs do not = a long reach). I mean, I should at least be adequate at running . But alas, I’ve discovered that long legs make quick strides during runs rather difficult. I run like a gazelle. Not because I mean to, but because my legs know no other way to run than to reach as far as physically possible before setting back down on the ground. In other words, my turnover rate could be quicker.

Luckily, I have zumba for that. Zumba has been teaching me to take smaller steps. Would you like to know how I learned this? By watching myself in the 400 mirrors that surround the room in which I do zumba. I would watch the instructor and couldn’t imagine why I look like a frog in a blender (sorry for the analogy, PETA) when I do the same exact dance move. And then it hit me: my steps are too big. I don’t need to use the whole length of my leg just to take a step. Totally unnecessary.

Applying this new realization is also a work in progress, but it’s coming along. In the meantime, long live the long limbed ladies and lads. And the rest of you folks, too. Love what you’ve got because, well, it’s what makes you, you.

Acceptance

Here’s the deal. There is no reason I can’t run far or fast. At least no reason that I can think of. But I get out there, and well, I’m slow. Not only that, but it’s more or less torture (most days) to make it through all my runs, especially if I want to make it through all of them while actually running. A few months ago I made myself a promise to run a certain amount of miles a week, and while I’ve more or less kept that promise, there’s certainly room for improvement. I’m at the point where just running may not be enough: I’m not at all satisfied with my running ability and that’s not okay.

Here’s what I want: I want to be able to eat an unlimited supply of frozen yogurt topped with yummy fruit and for all of my vegetables to be disguised in cheese or dipped in ranch dressing. I want breakfast made for me every morning (complete with a latte) and I want to naturally be strong. I want to fly cool airplanes and helicopters and maybe parachute out of some more. But more on topic, I want to be able to run as fast as I can for as long as I want. Is all that so much to ask? Some of these things, I admit, are less likely to happen for me. But some I can do something about.

I’m just not sure how deep I want to get into this whole running thing. Do I want to know what gels are and when to chew/drink/squeeze them? Do I want to know what my poor toes will look like after many many miles of running? Do I want to know the difference between a runner and a jogger? Do I want to have an opinion about it? Do I want to be an active member of the running community? Am I already? (Insert scary realization here)

Here’s the truth: I’m a sprinter. I’m not a distance runner. Any distance longer than 100 meters makes me sad. I’m cool with running my heart out for a very short amount of time but I’m fairly certain that’s because I don’t know how to manage my energy. How do I know if I’ll have enough energy at the end of my long run? I don’t even know if I’ll have enough energy in 300 feet.

The question I keep asking myself: Should I keep on keeping on or buckle down and become the fast runner I know I should be? Obviously I know the answer to this, it’s just a matter of sucking it up and admitting to myself that I want to be a good runner, not just someone who runs.

That didn’t take very long.