Rest Day Reflections #4

Well I suppose that it technically doesn’t count as a rest day if you run 11 miles…but we will let it go this one time.

It’s been another busy week! My parents were in town for a few days and I even got to go for a run with my mom.

This week was also full of firsts: first run in my new shoes, first new bike since middle school, first bloody nose ever, and first accepted journal publication.

Week Stats:

Miles Run: 29.5
Yoga Classes: 0
Strength Training Sessions: 2
Cross-Training: 10 mile bike ride
Weeks Until Marathon: 7
Races Run: 1
Cakes Baked: 1

Things I am Grateful for This Week:

1) The Zoo
This week I spent a morning at the zoo with my family AND I ran the Henry Vilas Zoo Run Run 5k. I love visiting the animals (especially the red pandas) and since the zoo is free, it doesn’t hurt my grad student bank account!

2) My parents
It was so great to have my parents in town this week (and not just because they took me out to eat a few times). It can be hard to live far away from family and nothing makes me happier than getting to spend a few days with them.

My family circa 2006. Apparently we haven't taken any recent pictures!

My family circa 2006. Apparently we haven’t taken any recent pictures!

3) Dogs
Recently I have been volunteering at the local humane society, which means I get to play with dogs (and do laundry/dishes/etc). Nothing puts a smile on my face like taking a dog out for a walk or to play fetch, and the dogs are so excited to get out of their kennel. Plus it’s awesome when they get adopted by a loving family!

Ford and Skipper - my childhood dogs, both adopted from a shelter.

Ford and Skipper – my childhood dogs, both adopted from a shelter.

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Breakfast Rut

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. Lately, however, I have been in a breakfast rut. I rotate the same few meals…and honestly those meals are all pretty similar. Here’s what I have been eating lately:

1) Toast w/ Peanut Butter and Banana

photo2) Oatmeal w/ Fruit
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3) Two Ingredient Pancake – basically egg and banana mashed together and then cooked like a pancake. Generally topped with a spoonful of peanut butter.

4) Cereal – My parents were kind enough to bring a few boxes of my favorite cereal when they visited this week.

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Generic Meijer brand frosted mini wheats! My favorite!

While I enjoy each of these breakfasts, I feel like I should branch out. I mean, I love bananas and peanut butter…but it’s getting a repetitive!

What do you usually eat for breakfast? Got any yummy ideas for me to try?

Noelle Bikes!

Although running is my favorite way to stay active, incorporating other activities is fun too. Biking is something I really enjoy, but haven’t done much of in the last few years. This was due mostly to me not having a bike…

My previous bike was stolen out of my garage a few years back, and I have been thinking about buying a new one ever since.  This week I finally actually went out and got a new one, which is super exciting!

So shiny!

So shiny!

My last bike was purchased about 13 years ago, and it turns out bikes have gotten a lot better since then – who knew!?! This new one doesn’t take nearly as much effort to pedal and the gears shift without making any horrible noises.

I also made sure to get a new helmet, since I don’t know that a decade old one would do my head much good.

Old helmet...and new one!

Old helmet…and new one!

I am excited to have a new way to commute around town and I am looking forward to going out for a long ride tomorrow!

What are you favorite non-running activities?

New Shoes!

I typically get 300mi out of a pair of running shoes before they start making my feet hurt. When my current pair hits 200mi, I purchase a second pair and start rotating them. Once the original pair has reached the end of its life, I switch exclusively to the new ones.

Last week I bought a new pair and today I took them out for their first run!

So clean!

New pair – so clean!

New shoes can be tricky at first, and it took me a mile or so to get the laces just the way I like them. I am sure I looked totally weird as I repeatedly pulled over to the side of the path to readjust my shoes!

Old pair

Old pair

Since I am prone to injury, I am particular about my running shoes. This means that my new shoes are exactly like my old ones. Luckily I got some fun pink shoe laces from the running store to help me tell them apart!

The shoes of 2013...so far.

The shoes of 2013…so far.

Rest Day Reflections #3

This week was busy, what with my dissertation proposal meeting and all. I got in most of my workouts, although I did take an extra rest day. I am all for pushing myself, but some days it’s better to listen to my body and give myself a break. Biggest running triumph this week was my new longest run ever of 20 miles!

Week Stats:

Miles Run: 30
Yoga Classes: 1
Strength Training Sessions: 1
Weeks Until Marathon: 7
New Long Run PB: 20 miles

Things I am Grateful for This Week:

1) Chocolate
Some days nothing hits the spot like a little chocolate. I bought myself a pack of M&Ms earlier in the week and saved them as a treat for after my long run. It was a delicious way to celebrate 20 miles!

Mmmmm

Mmmmm

2) Silly Music
My running playlist is long, so sometimes an unexpected song comes on and gives me a little extra pep! Yesterday, for example, the theme song to Men in Black came on around mile fifteen.

3) Motivational Running Quotes
There are lots of running quotes out there and while they are often cheesy, sometimes they provide me with just the inspiration I need. This weekend, my Runner’s World calendar reminded me of the importance of seeking peace in running and in life.

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“Running is all about finding your inner peace, and so is a life well lived.” – Dean Karnazes

Tackling Twenty

Yesterday, I told you how scared I was for my long run. Well today, I write as someone with a new longest distance under my belt: 20.23 miles!

Here’s how it went down:

I woke up at 5:45am to eat breakfast. Typically, I don’t eat before I run, but I knew that I was going to be out there for a long time and would need the energy. I had toast with peanut butter and banana, since I know from experience that it sits well in my stomach.

Breakfast!

Breakfast!

After eating, I went back to bed! At 8am, my alarm went off and it was time to go.

I got dressed in the clothes I had laid out the night before and made sure to put on sunscreen. Then I grabbed my fuel, started up my watch, and headed out the door. As I stepped outside, I was feeling ready!

Starting my run...20mi to go!

Starting my run…20mi to go!

I felt good from the start and was excited as I hit the first few miles. In fact, I kept having to remind myself to slow down – I didn’t want to be miserable later because I went out too fast.

At about mile 6, I had a gu. I have avoided gu in the past because of the texture. Apparently, I just hadn’t found the right flavor. The chocolate outrage tastes exactly like chocolate frosting – only with caffeine. Delicious!

Yum!

Yum!

I also took a quick stop to use the bathroom at a nearby hotel. The next 8mi of the run were through neighborhoods, and I didn’t want to be stuck having to pee! That does not make running fun.

The next miles ticked by pretty uneventfully. I felt good and the weather was just right. I was especially happy when I hit the 10mi mark and could start counting down the miles I had left to go! I fueled with a shot blok at miles 10, 14, and 16, which kept my energy up.

At mile 17, I knew I was in the home stretch and started to get really excited. 17mi was more than I had ever run before, so it already felt like a win. I reminded myself that I had less than a 5k to go and that I just needed to keep moving. My body was getting sore at this point, but just fatigue – no pain.

I kept trekking towards home, and eventually my watch let out the glorious beep signaling that I had hit 20 miles! I was smiling uncontrollably at this point and am pretty sure that all the tailgating football fans thought I was nuts.

Screen Shot 2013-09-21 at 4.24.10 PM

I ran the final blocks to my house and then it was done. I had completed my long run. I headed inside for a long stretch, a shower and some lunch. Then I took a celebratory nap.

As I sit here writing, with my feet up and my compressions socks on, I feel an amazing sense of accomplishment. Three years ago I couldn’t run 20ft, let alone 20mi. Today I did it, and I didn’t even stop to walk!* It’s overwhelming and a great reminder of how, with time and hard work, I can do things I never would have thought possible.

Plus, now I finally feel like I might just be able to complete that marathon in November!

How do you celebrate a long run?

*Okay, I walked while eating my gel/shot bloks. But that’s due to fear of choking!

 

 

Terrified of Twenty!

Tomorrow I am scheduled to go for my longest run ever:

20 miles!

It sounds so scary and I am really nervous!

When I first started running, I felt like this about every long run. I remember when 6mi seemed unattainable. Lately, though, I have felt pretty calm about longer runs and they don’t disrupt my schedule the way they used to. But 20 just feels…different.

In order to calm my nerves, I have prepared myself ahead of time. I have my route mapped out. I have my Garmin charged and my phone ready with podcasts. I have my running clothes out and my fuel packed.

Nom nom nom

Nom nom nom

I am trying to calm myself by remembering that it’s only about 4mi more than my previous longest distance. I have done two 16 milers – one was great and one was terrible. But I know that with every mile, it gets harder to tack one more on.

Luckily, the weather looks like it will be great!

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 5.10.50 PM

I am also a little bit excited – 20mi makes my upcoming marathon feel so much more real. It’s also something that, just three years ago, I never could have imagined myself doing.

Do you have a run planned for the weekend? How do you deal with long run anxiety?

Dissertation Proposal and a Hill Workout

Today was a big day for me: I proposed my dissertation! Basically this means that my committee said I can go ahead with my experiment. I have spent the last nine months reviewing literature, collecting/analyzing preliminary data, and writing up my proposal – this afternoon I finally got to share and get feedback on all of that work. The dissertation is the last step in getting my PhD, so this was an important meeting.

Committee meetings are not my favorite thing. They’re nerve-wracking and involve sitting in a room for an hour, answering difficult questions. It’s great in the sense that it gives you a chance to really think through a research project, but it’s draining.

Earlier in my graduate school career, a day like today would have provoked a lot of anxiety. I would have barely been able to eat or sleep in the days prior. Since I look up running, however, stressful meetings are much more manageable.

This morning I did another hard hill workout – it was a tough run and there were a few times when I just wanted to give up. But I kept telling myself that if I ran hard up the hill, my committee meeting would feel so easy in comparison. With every step I reminded myself that this workout would be the hardest part of my day.

It sounds silly, but it worked. When I sat down at my committee meeting, it didn’t feel nearly as scary as it could have. Instead I felt ready to conquer the world – if I could push myself that hard on my run, there was no reason I couldn’t survive my meeting as well.

Plus, every time the meeting got tough, I thought “well at least it’s better than running up that hill again!”

Things I Love: Socks!

Before becoming a runner, I didn’t give a lot of thought to socks. I just bought whatever was on sale.

For some, this method works for choosing running socks as well. But if you are prone to blisters like I am, you may need to put a little more thought into it. After hobbling through some painful runs, I finally got serious about my socks.

So many athletics socks!

So many socks!

Nowadays, I focus on 4 things when buying running socks:

1) Material
The general rule is to avoid cotton. Cotton holds in moisture, which can increase the potential for blisters.

2) Thickness.
I prefer medium weight socks. Socks that are too thin don’t provide quite enough protection. Thin socks also need to be replaced more often, because they are prone to holes. Really thick socks, on the other hand, can lead to overheated feet.

3) Height
Usually I pick socks that come up just above the top of my sneakers. This prevents heel blisters without making me look like I stepped out of an 80s aerobics video.

4) Seams
There is nothing worse than having a seam rub against your foot with each step. Once, about 12mi into a run, I had to make an emergency stop on a bench and rip my shoe/sock off because the seam was so painful. Unfortunately, there were other people already sitting on the bench and they looked at me like I was completely insane. In order to avoid such incidents, I look for socks with either no seams or with seams in places that don’t bother me.

Now, you can spend a LOT of money on running socks – some cost $15 or more for a single pair. As a graduate student, I can’t afford to fork over that type of cash. Instead, I look for socks that meet my needs without breaking the bank. Here are a few of my favorites*:

Sof Sole Socks: Sof Sole offers socks in a variety of thicknesses and heights.

Sof Sole

Sof Sole

Champion C9 Socks: The Champion C9 brand from Target has surprisingly good athletic gear, and it’s affordable! These socks are really comfortable and durable.

C9 Socks

C9 Socks

Brooks Running Socks: These are a bit pricier, but great for when my feet need a little more cushion.

Brooks

Brooks

Injinji Toe Socks: These socks are hard to put on, but are great on days when you know your feet are going to get wet. On a rainy run, these keep my toes from rubbing together.

They feel better than they look!

They feel better than they look!

Pro Compression Socks: I don’t actually wear compression socks during my runs, but I love them for recovering after a tough workout. Also great for long plane/car rides.

Compression socks

Compression socks

What socks do you like to run in?

* All opinions expressed are my own.

Rest Day Reflections #2

This week has been pretty intense, both work-wise and life-wise. Luckily, I found time to get my runs in, which helped keep me from losing my mind!

Week Stats:

Miles Run: 26.3
Yoga Classes: 1
Strength Training Sessions: 2
Cross-Training: 30min elliptical
Weeks Until Marathon: 8 (cue panic)
Dissertation Proposals Turned In: 1

Things I am Grateful for This Week:

1) Fall
The first hints of fall are in the air and the cooler weather has been great for running. Plus, it’s football season!

2) Brunch
I love doing brunch. The chance to hang out with friends, eat breakfast food, and not have to get up super early…priceless.

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Mmmm…hot chocolate

3) Pink Shoelaces
Picked up some new running shoes at Berkeley Running Company yesterday. Due to my foot size/mechanics, I am limited in what I can wear. Sadly, this pretty much excludes all the cute, brightly colored shoes. To help make my shoes a little more fun, the staff at Berkeley treated me to a free pair of shoelaces 🙂

So fun!

So fun!

How was your week?