September 14, 2010

Obstacles and Solutions

I'm only 18 days away from my 5K, and I've struggled the last couple of weeks, worried that I won't be able to run the full race without walking (and without finishing dead last). It's been really tough lately. It's also been hot and dry, until just recently. The pond at my favorite running spot dried up and made the park and trail awful to visit. My mysterious ankle pain returned, even though I've been wearing my professionally-fitted running store recommended shoes. My RunKeeper app stopped working and I got frustrated that my mileage wasn't being recorded accurately. I've struggled through the right gear and fuel so I don't flake out in the middle of a run. I still don't have it all figured out, but today I finally had a pretty good run and feel better about things.

Running requires fuel. I need to be hydrated, but not drink too much. I need to eat so I don't feel weak with hunger during a run, but I can't eat too much or I'll feel sick. I've been drinking water and avoiding Gatorade because I didn't want to add any calories to my day. But I've decided G2 has a fraction of the calories in Gatorade, and it makes me feel tons better, so it's worth it. Also, I've learned peanut butter and crackers are little miracles before a run in between work and dinner. It tides me over without making me full. A friend recommended that I eat Skittles, which I think is a fantastic idea, since I already have a mild addiction to them. I'm slowly getting this fuel thing figured out and learning what my body can and can't handle.

When my RunKeeper app started acting up, I was so upset. I knew Nike+ didn't record accurate mileage, and I was at a loss over what to do. Somehow spending over $150 on a Garmin just didn't seem appealing. But then Nike+ e-mailed me and said they had changed their cheating ways and wanted to get back together! For only $1.99! So I downloaded a new Nike+ app on my iPhone for two bucks, and I don't need the shoe sensor anymore.

It works through GPS and some other magical technology that can even track my mileage when I run INDOORS! I don't know what Nike+ is thinking, providing such a great app for practically peanuts, but so far, it's working great. The GPS has been accurate when I run outside, and it kinda blows my mind that it knows how far I'm running inside at the gym. I am loving it! I love it because it works, but hearing a silly congratulatory message from Tracy Morgan when I do a good job doesn't hurt either.

Overcoming Weakness
My ankle pain returned a couple of weeks ago. It wasn't as painful as it was before I switched to my Brooks shoes for overpronators, but it was still noticeable and getting worse each time I ran. So I finally gave in to the idea of barefoot running and all the amazing stories I read in Born to Run. Born to Run is a book that would make the laziest of sloths want to get up and race around the countryside. It's filled with inspiring stories, but it also contains compelling arguments about why we shouldn't wear giant, thick-soled protective shoes. Because we truly were born runners. All humans can do it. All humans can't do it well, as I'm proving, but everyone is capable. In Born to Run, the author says that if we encase our feet in protective padding, our feet can't get strong. And our feet can't tell our legs and our brains how we need to move so we won't get hurt. So I took a chance and got some new shoes. I'm not running barefoot by any means, but I got a pair of Nike Free running shoes, which is a slimmer, much more flexible version of other Nikes.

I ran on Sunday for the first time in my Nike Frees. It was totally weird. For the first time ever, I was very aware of my toes. Instead of striking on my heel and slapping my toe to the ground as I do with my huge Brooks shoes, which look like boats on my feet, I can now control and change the way my foot hits the ground. The shoe is flexible enough that it lets me run however my legs need to run, and it makes my feet and legs work a lot harder. There's no two-inch sole to spring me forward anymore. I didn't run very far because I didn't want to overdo it. But today, I tried my usual 30-minute run in them, and I didn't have any ankle pain. I did, however, have serious foot and calf cramps. I had to slow down and walk a few times because my muscles were so tense and tight. They're having to work so much harder than before, and it was too much for me to handle. I'm thinking of switching back to the Brooks on some runs because I don't want these Nikes to throw me off for the race. I have a hard enough time as it is when everything feels "good." Getting new shoes less than a month before a race is probably not the best idea, but I want to do whatever I can to get stronger. So far, I think Nike Free is the way to accomplish that.

My Route
I have a place where I like to run, but I haven't been able to go there lately. It's been too hot to run outside at all, but my place in particular has been extra awful. It's a pond filled with geese, but the pond dried up and the geese stayed. There was an unpleasant smell and what little water was left turned green. It was a sad sight. But it finally rained! And rained and rained and rained. And now the pond is full and there's water flowing under all the little bridges along the path. I'm going back to my safe zone with pretty views and semi-flat running path. This place makes me happy.

My Motivation
I haven't quite finished the PodRunner program, but I'm finished with PodRunner. I can (sometimes) run 30 minutes without stopping, and I still need to work up to 35 before I "graduate," but there's only so much techno dance music I can stand. So now I'm working on the ultimate playlist to keep me going when I want to collapse. My taste in music is probably pretty odd compared to most people. I like songs that are slow and mellow almost all the time. So my iPod library is not meeting my needs when it comes to motivational running music. When I'm cooking or driving, I love Death Cab, but that just won't cut it when I'm running in the summer heat and gasping for air. I downloaded some new songs, and I was in love with my playlist today.

Sweet Pea - Amos Lee
All Cause of You - The 88
Pumped Up Kicks - Foster the People
Bad Sun - The Bravery
Help I'm Alive - Metric
Crossfire - Brandon Flowers
Out of the Blue - Julian Casablancas
Good Life - OneRepublic
Why Don't We Just Dance - Josh Turner
I'll Stop the World and Melt with You - Modern English

1 comment:

  1. Anna, I think you are doing great! I know you will do well with your 5K. Running can be so intimidating but you seem to be coming at it full force! That is great! I have looked into the running shoes that basically look like feet, but I also can't afford to switch shoes right now (only 6 weeks from my race). Also, I love your music! I had forgotten that we have very similar taste in music. When I run to music, it is certainly not the average hard core stuff most people choose! Good luck and enjoy those skittles! Also, another helpful hint is to make sure you get some protein in your body within 20 minutes of your workout. This best feeds the muscle and the body helping it to recover and prepare for your next little stroll!



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