It wasn’t that long ago that I wrote a post about the ABCs of running (you can read it here), mostly to remind myself of things I would need to remember when I toe the start line of a race again. Except I still haven’t and right now I have zero plans to do so.
When it comes to the ABCs of running, though, I think C is the most important letter — especially when you pair it with consistency!
By consistency I mean just keep running Although I do advise you to mix it up — explore different locations, run on different surfaces, run easy most of the time but hard occasionally. All those things will keep running interesting.
Variety may be the spice of life, but if you’re not running at least three times a week you’re going to struggle because it’s almost as though you’re learning to run over and over and over again.
In fact, I have friend that will pretty much take the Winter off
You know what? They complain about how hard running is when they start again! That’s because it only takes a few days to start “detraining”.
You don’t have to have aspirations of running faster, or be chasing a PR — but by running consistently you are far less likely to be injured, because you body will remain adapted to running.
Be consistent with rest days, too A friend recently realized that she hadn’t taken a true rest day in almost 2 months. No wonder she was feeling burned out — and achy.
I have to admit that lately I am getting far fewer true rest days than I’d like, as often my rest days are spent going to my mom. There isn’t a lot I can do about that, though, other than recognize that I’m not getting as much rest as I probably need to pay attention to the feedback from my body.
You should have at least one true rest day a week. That might mean some easy walking or soothing Yoga, but it doesn’t mean a power walk or power Yoga (or hot Yoga, or Ashtanga).
Consistency is the key to almost anything in life I always say I’d rather you do 10 minutes of Yoga several days a week, rather than an hour long class once a week. When I was playing my flute all through out my school years, that meant practicing — every single day.
Want to get up earlier in the morning? Guess what: getting up early one day a week and late the other six isn’t going to help you make getting up early a habit!
Final Thoughts Have you ever watched your dog or cat get up after sleeping? They stretch, right? They stretch a lot! Every.Single.Time. It’s part of how they stay limber. They don’t just stretch every once in a while, they stretch after getting up all the time. It’s just their nature.
Run consistently and running will just be your nature, too
I wrote another post about my top tips for the week before and the prep for my first colonoscopy here. As I mentioned in that post, I’m trying to take some of the stigma out of the prep. Seriously it’s not as bad as we are led to believe, although of course it’s not fun and everyone’s experience is different.
Dealing with the low fiber diet Every doctor has different requirements for the prep, and you should absolutely follow your doctor’s instructions. Mine had me start a low fiber diet a week before. You could easily go wild with things like bread and pasta, pancakes and french toast, but I was on a mission to eat as healthy as I could.
Mostly chicken, cod, asparagus, carrots, spinach, bananas, melon, sourdough bread, rice, pasta, and tofu. I did indulge in some vanilla pudding and vanilla frozen yogurt. It was bland and boring, but not too bad. I also indulged in some frozen belgian waffles on my long run day — although in the end they were just meh.
The Prep: what to eat Ah, the dreaded prep. I know a lot of people find the day before the procedure to be hard — and not just because of the prep, because they’re starving!
I shared in my tip post about having jello for breakfast. I had bone broth for lunch and a late afternoon snack. You’re also supposed to drink 8 ounces of liquids every hour — I alternated Nuun (lemon lime) with tea.
I was never hungry. I did feel kind of bloated from all that liquid, even though I’m normally a well hydrated person, and of course there were frequent bathroom trips for the same reason.
I will also say I am used to a 24 hour fast once a year for religious reasons, and quite frankly colonoscopy prep was so much easier — the religious fast is no solid food at all; just water and tea for 24 hours. On the other hand, you can also eat well before you start that fast! I was never hungry during the prep at all.
Mixing up the Prep Again I wrote about this briefly in my tips post here. The tip about the apple juice I shared there worked really well; I didn’t mind drinking the mixture at all. I also used a straw, which always makes liquids go down easier.
I had made jello a couple of days before: mix 2 Tbsp gelatin with 1/2 cup chilled white grape juice (that was the flavor I chose, anyway). Let it thicken.
Pour the remainder of the 32 ounce bottle of juice into my large (8 cup) glass measuring cup. Heat the 32 oz of juice in the microwave until warm (this is so the gelatin and honey will mix evenly with the juice), then pour in the jelled juice mixture and mix well so any clumps break up and it’s a smooth mixture.
Lastly pour in half a cup of honey and mix until dissolved. Honey loses its health benefits if heated so never heat your honey! Pour into smaller containers, refrigerate overnight, and voila! Jello.
I used that same large measuring cup to mix up the prep. I’d already chilled my apple juice, so I measured out 32 ounces, added half the prep mix, mixed well, and then divided it between some mason jars. Repeat for the second half.
The Real Prep There are apparently different types of preps, but again, stick to your doctor’s guidelines. I was doing a split prep, which meant I took some laxatives (pills) in the afternoon, then chased that two hours later with half of the above prep mix.
You drink that over the course of about 2 hours, and I found I started to go right about the time I finished. I continued to go over the next couple of hours, but it was never as though I didn’t have enough time to make it to the bathroom.
I was also able to go to bed after that and sleep a few hours, although it was somewhat restless. I woke up about an hour before I needed to drink the second half, and realized I had time to practice some Yoga Nidra (a deep relaxation technique), which helped much more than just laying there trying to sleep. I have a similar video here.
Then it was time to repeat the same procedure of drinking the prep, in my case starting around 4:30 am — I am often up that time anyway, but of course I’d only had around 5 hours sleep plus, well, you know.
Another tip that didn’t make it into my tip post: get some diaper wipes and coconut oil (or diaper rash cream). I used the coconut oil, since I already had it, and the wipes. I think you can figure out what both were for.
They had me stop all liquids two hours before the procedure. Again I wasn’t at all hungry, even though this was my longest fast ever. TMI alert: You know you’ve done your prep correctly if you’re basically peeing from your butt, and you’ll know it when that happens.
The drive to the doctors office was no problem, the 30 minute+ wait at the doctor’s office was no problem, and they offered me a bathroom right before the procedure, which I used.
Was I Aware During? Not at all, and that’s exactly what I wanted. In fact, I know that I got dressed, went down the elevator, and met Mr. Judy afterward but I actually have little memory of that. Which jives with the time I was knocked out to have my wisdom teeth out — they read me instructions afterwards, Mr. Judy said I was nodding my head, but I have no memory of it. Come to think of it, the wisdom teeth extraction was actually a lot harder than this! The recuperation, anyway.
I have read of some people who wake up briefly during, but personally I’m glad I slept through the whole thing.
Final Thoughts I think the worst part of the whole thing for me was actually getting the IV put in! I am a hard stick in the best of times, but of course there’s really no way to avoid being somewhat dehydrated. The nurse failed on the first one, and it was somewhat painful; she brought in a pinch hitter, who was successful, but even that was a bit painful. I had a lovely bruise afterwards.
Colonoscopies save lives. They are not fun, but they are not that bad either. It’s a relief to know that at the moment I am cancer free there, given my family’s history: my Dad had polyps, so even though I didn’t, I still have to have another colonoscopy in five years.
Everyone’s experience is different, but don’t let the horror stories of the prep stop you from getting this life saving test!
I know that this post really doesn’t have anything to do with running, but most of us fold in running to a healthy lifestyle. Getting the tests we need to stay healthy helps to keep us running!
I’ve got 8 Tips to get you started running — and enjoying it!
Running is often seen as a simple sport, and on the surface, it is: Put on some clothes, lace up your shoes, and just run.
Speaking of shoes, that leads me to my first tip . . .
Get fitted for shoes at a running store Here’s a cautionary tale for you: my sister decided, no doubt after years of hearing about my running, that she would start running, too. She didn’t get running-specific shoes (or ask me for any advice). She injured herself badly and that was the end of her running.
A good running store will at the very least watch you walk to see if you pronate or supinate. If you’re lucky, they’ll have you run a bit. If you’re really lucky, they’ll video you running and do a gait analysis. Although I’ve had different opinions about my foot mechanics at the same store.
Run in those shoes before you buy them In pre-Pandemic days, running stores allowed you to run a little bit in the shoe. I don’t know if they still do that. You can’t really tell if a shoe is right for you — especially if you’re a beginning runner — but you will at least be able to tell whether or not the shoes feel good out of the box.
I like to say that I have to run at least 6 miles in a shoe before I can tell if it’s really the right fit. As a beginning runner, you won’t be running 6 miles at a time! If there’s a problem with the shoe, the store should accept a return (like the time the sole came off my trail shoes).
In the future, once you know your foot mechanics and the type of shoe recommended for you, you can try buying your running shoes online. Some brick and mortar stores have loyalty programs — make sure to ask about that.
If running feels terrible . . . . . . you are probably running too fast. You should be able to talk. Your runs should feel easy. Don’t worry about pace, that will come with time. Even if running feels good, you should still run easy! It takes time for your cardiovascular system — and more importantly, your body — to get used to the effort of running.
It’s okay to walk New — and experienced runners — get very hung up about not walking while running. You are still a runner even if you walk. Especially when you start, walk breaks will help running feel easier. Even experienced runners can hold off fatigue by taking walking breaks. Jeff Galloway is a famous Olympic medaler who promotes run/walk.
What about the famous runner’s high? It definitely exists, but many runners will tell you they don’t feel it until they stop running. Some never experience it at all. Thankfully I have, and it’s a wonderful feeling — usually one I get after a race.
Cotton is Rotten Unless you enjoy chafing, I highly suggest there should be no cotton in your running gear (yes, that includes your socks). Cotton blends can be okay — often race shirts are a blend of polyester and cotton. Cotton doesn’t wick away moisture, which is part of why you are much more likely to chafe if you’re wearing cotton anything.
You Earned Your Callouses I suggest you keep them! They are usually places on your feet that take a beating, and hard skin builds up in that area. They are there to protect that area from damage. Whatever you do, don’t try to get rid of them before a race!
2 Tips for Your First Race, No Matter the Distance Almost every first time racer obsesses over their finish time. Don’t! Enjoy the experience. Soak in the atmosphere. Chat with some of the runners: before, during, after.
My number one racing tip, and this one applies to both seasoned and novice runners: don’t go out too fast! Just trust me on that — it pretty much never ends well.
Final Thoughts Running is sneaky. You may start it thinking I’m only doing this to lose weight, or because my doctor told me it would be good for me, but it has a sneaky way of getting under your skin. Some people love running from that first run, and others can take months or even years to fall in run with running.
Follow some (or all) of these tips and I promise that your love affair with running will start sooner rather than later.
I had seen Mezcla Protein Bars on sale at Fresh Market — in the app. When I went to buy them, though, there were none to be found. Until finally, probably a month later — not on sale — there they were.
I tried two flavors and I love them! I knew you could get a mixed flavor box, but of course the bars are pricey, so I didn’t want to spend $$ before I knew I liked them.
What I like about Mezcla Protein Bars There’s a lot to like!
Soy, dairy, and gluten free (although made in a plant that might use milk/soy)
Plant protein (pea crisps/protein, quinoa, amaranth)
At 170 calories they’re a true snack (perfect for post run IMHO), not a meal
2% of the profits go to fund art projects in underserved schools (browse through the amazing artwork here!)
The flavors: Mexican Hot Chocolate, Peruvian Cocoa Peanut Butter, Japanese Matcha Vanilla
What about the taste? Initially I tried the Mexican Hot Chocolate and Japanese Matcha Vanilla bars (all I could find) and loved both! The Chocolate bars have a chocolate coating on the bottom, while the Matcha bars have a vanilla coating on the bottom — so they’re not a snack to bring along on a hot day.
I did worry about the coating melting when I got my variety box from Amazon, but they are well packaged and even in summer they arrived in great shape. I did finally try the Cacao Peanut Butter bar — oddly, that wasn’t my favorite. Still good I preferred the other two flaovrs.
Final Thoughts The ingredients are pretty natural. Sure, 7 gm of sugar is still almost 2 teaspoons of sugar, but it’s far less than many protein bars. These bars won’t weigh you down but they should help stave off the rungries as a post run snack. Best of all is the taste!
The only downside to Mezcla Bars is the price. Although I always say to Mr. Judy — what is your health worth?
You can buy Mezcla bars from their Website here or on Amazon here (Amazon Affiliate link, mixed variety box). I bought these bars on my own, and the opinions in this post are my own, too.
Do you use protein bars as post run snacks sometimes?
What’s your favorite one?
What’s your favorite healthy one, LOL!?
Runners invest so much time and energy in training for their races that it’s completely understandable when we start to get worried about something going wrong before or during the race.
You know what? Sometimes it will. Sometimes that race will totally suck, and other times you’ll dig deep and come out smiling.
What if I’m last? I have never come in last in a race, although I have definitely been DFL (dead frickin’ last) at some point in some races. You know what? Someone is going to be last. I’ve even heard of races where they really throw a party for the last person to cross the finish line — but let’s face it, that’s the exception.
I did one race that ran out of medals (even though I wasn’t even close to being the last runner, long story).
I have done races where there’s really slim pickings for food at the end. Generally because the public has partaken, and I’m towards the BOTP. One memorable race they ran out of the promised chocolate milk straight from the cows — it was a farm — yes, I know chocolate milk doesn’t come straight from cows. The point is you can’t depend on getting what the faster finishers get — although again, that is not always the case.
Most races have runners and walkers and if you’re running, chances are pretty good that the walkers will be finishing after you. Although I have been passed by race walkers in races.
My worst race, the one where I was injured and had to walk by mile ten, my most painful and almost slowest race ever — a small one, in fact — guess what? I still wasn’t last.
So what if you’re last? Did you do your best? Did you cross the finish line like all the other runners? You earned your medal. You have nowhere to go but up.
What if I get sick during the race? It’s only happened to me once, knock on wood. I’ve definitely had races where I didn’t feel great, felt run down in fact, but only one where I had to make a stop to use a portapotty urgently. I actually had to run quite a few miles while really needing that portapotty.
Endorphins are a wonderful thing. I finished the race. It is still, in fact, my half PR despite that stop. I couldn’t eat much for a few days after, which really sucks while you’re on vacation and have just run a half, but I survived.
The worst that can happen is that you’ll DNF (did not finish). Be kind to yourself. There’s always another race. Know when it’s time to throw in the towel.
In my case the race was a point to point we had to be bussed to and from, so it’s not like I could just easily go back to the hotel. I was lucky to get a ride with a kind stranger, and luckily I wasn’t feeling that bad at that point (endorphins, again!).
What if I choose the wrong clothes? It happens. Maybe that raincoat wasn’t such a great idea even if it was rainy. Maybe you ran half a race holding onto your hat so it didn’t blow away. Maybe it was supposed to be cool and suddenly got hot — or hot and suddenly got cold.
My best advice is to lay out several different outfits no matter what the forecast, so even if it changes overnight (it definitely can), you can quickly change outfits on the fly. If you’re traveling to the race — do the same thing. Take it from me!
Final Thoughts When it comes to racing, there are a lot of What Ifs. Most of them you just can’t control.
What if it’s suddenly hot on race day (wish I had a nickel for the many times that’s happened to me). What if there’s a Nor’easter (yup, been there, ran in that). What if I get lost — so far I’ve been lucky on that one. What if I can’t find the start — well, I had one race where I did find the start, but I had to run to it because I thought it was somewhere else. So many What Ifs in racing.
What was your best race experience when things went wrong?
How do you overcome your own What Ifs? Have you ever actually been DFL?
When I did some research for things to help you cool down on the run, I came across the Chillpal Cooling Gaiter (Amazon Affiliate link here). I knew I had to try it!
I love my cooling towels but . . . I do love my cooling towels. It always shocks me that the vast majority of runners shun them. Are they perfect? No! Do they help? Yes! At least in my humble opinion. I like that they knot around your neck, so you have the choice about how tight or loose they fit.
What I don’t love? The way they have a tendency to drip water all over your top, no matter how well you wring it out, because the ends hang down onto your chest. Great for wiping the sweat off of your neck and or head, but not so great sporting the saturated top look.
How does it work? You just thoroughly wet the gaiter, and then wring it so the extra water comes out. It works by cooling as the water evaporates off of the gaiter.
Did the gaiter deliver? It’s always hard to judge — would I have felt hotter without the gaiter? Who knows?! I tested the gaiter out on a warm and very humid morning. It was still quite wet (and cool) by the time I was done with my 3 mile run plus meeting up with Mr. Judy to finish up Bandit’s walk (about another half mile or so).
My cooling towels definitely help — but I don’t think they stay wet as long. Because it’s a gaiter, you can’t tighten it around your neck as you would with a towel, although I guess how tight it is depends on your neck size. It still gets your top a little weight, but nowhere wet as it did when I used a cooling towel. I found it to be more comfortable than a cooling towel, too.
The Chillpal Gaiter comes in four different colors and only costs $9.97.
Final Thoughts I’ve only used it once so far, but I do think I prefer the gaiter to my cooling towels. I think it would be useful on hikes, too (hmmm, do they make a doggy sized one?). I wonder if the moisture attracts more bugs? I’m not sure. The gnats were bothering me just a little on this run, but nothing terrible and it’s that time of year.
You can try your own Chillpal here! (Amazon affiliate link). If you do, let me know your thoughts.
Do you wish there was a way to feel more comfortable running in heat & humidity?
Have you tried something that helps you on those hot & humid runs?
Choosing the right route for me I might want to run some hills. Or I don’t want to run hills because something’s bothering me! I might be short on time and want to stay in my neighborhood. I might not want to drive to the route the group has chosen, which might be close to them but further away from me.
Running at the time I want Sometimes I want to start earlier to beat the heat. Sometimes I want to start later when it’s colder. I am lucky that I don’t have a 9-5 job and am able to cherry pick when I run (sort of).
Choosing a different long run day Again, no 9-5 job. Which means I often choose to run my long run on a Thursday, Friday, maybe Sunday — it might be that a different day has better weather, or that I just have other commitments on the day the group runs a long run.
Go with the flow The weather changes. A lot. Always running on the same day means you may be dealing with foul weather. There is nothing wrong with that, but if you can choose another day with better weather? Yes, misery may love company, but going solo helps build that mental muscle.
Sometimes I just need to be alone There have definitely been times when I’ve been angry, or sad, or just overwhelmed, and the truth is I want to be alone. Sometimes running hard by myself is just what the doctor ordered. Or running slowly and stopping at lot!
Final Thoughts I think it really comes down to flexibility for me. Running with groups has many advantages, as I wrote about last week here. Don’t count out running solo, though — it’s got its advantages too.
. . . even for Shy Runners. That’s me in the white vest towards the right above.
A Reason to Show Up It’s much harder to bail on a run knowing that other runners are waiting for you. It also helps if you’re a runner who tends to procrastinate.
Someone to Share the Miles With As the saying goes, misery loves company. Sometimes it’s about sharing the wins:
A new distance
Maybe just some cute new kicks or running clothes!
It’s all too easy for runners to get in their head, but running with other people can help you forget about what’s bothering you.
A Little Push Sometimes you end up running with someone who is a little faster than you are — as long as you’re careful and don’t run too fast for your body, a little push every now and again is a good thing.
Slowing Down For the runner that always runs like a bat out of he!!, sometimes running with someone who runs slower is just what the doctor ordered.
Finding Your Tribe Let’s face it, our non running friends, or SOs who don’t run, and probably the rest of our family can get a bit tired of hearing about our runs. Runners love to talk about running!
Final Thoughts I started out as a solo runner, I ran with different groups for a lot of years, and for a variety of reasons I’ve been a solo runner the last couple of years. Like anything there are pros and cons to running solo and to running in a group.
I will say this though: I wish when I had started to run that I joined a group. It can be immensely helpful when you’re a new runner, although if you’re a slower runner, sometimes finding the right group takes a few tries. It’s worth it though!
Have you been in Facebook groups where someone asks about what your favorite running shoe is? Or maybe your running friends admire your new kicks and want to know what they are.
The same running shoes can make anyone faster I cringe every time I see someone asking other people which shoes they love. What they should be asking:
Do you pronate or supinate?
Do you wear a neutral shoe or need more stability?
Do you like a lot of cushioning?
Is running in zero drop shoes comfortable for you?
Is your foot narrow or wide or normal?
Do you wear insoles?
I could go on an on. Just because certain shoes makes one person speedy isn’t a guarantee that it will give you some pep in your step — or that you won’t end up with an injury.
If the fire is hot enough anything will burn Dave McGillavray, Boston Marathon RD, has the story about how he believed this . . . until he needed heart surgery. Have you heard the saying garbage in, garbage out? Just sayin’. And for some of us, that fire just never gets hot enough in the first place (raises hand).
To get faster you have to run more Maybe. Maybe not. There are a lot of fast people who don’t run a whole lot of miles. Then there are elite runners who do run all the miles (but they are basically outliers). There are as many ways to get faster as there are runners.
If you wear the race tshirt on race day you’ll trip, break a leg, and get hit by lightning The subject given for this post was the funniest running myths you’ve heard. Probably the funniest one I’ve heard is that if a woman runs more than 800m her uterus might fall out. Thousands (millions?) of female runners have disproved that myth!
I couldn’t think of other funny running myths when I sat down to write, but as I was coming to the wrap up, the taboo about wearing the race tshirt on race day popped into my mind. I did a little looking around at blog posts on this very subject. No one actually had a bad luck story to tell from wearing the race shirt on race day, and of course you see it at every race. Usually the worst thing that happens is chafing.
I’m still going to say you have to earn that tshirt, so wear it proudly afterward and feel free to wear a shirt from a race you’ve already run during.
Did you come up with funny running myths?
If you wore the race tee during a race, did something awful happen to you? How about running superstitions?
Do you take a moment to look at how the first half of the year has gone, or do you just go on with the second half? Whether you set goals or not, I always think it’s a good idea to reflect (but not ruminate) on what has happened, so you can adjust your sails if need be going forward.
Races Zip, zero, zilch, nada. I’ll get back to racing when the time is right for me, and so far, I just haven’t felt the need. Although I used to race somewhat often, racing wasn’t really that important to me.
So far this year there haven’t even been any virtual races for me. I do enjoy some new swag once in a while, but nothing has really caught my eye and I spent a lot of time in the first quarter of the year feeling run down.
Health I am very grateful that COVID, for the most part, didn’t seriously impact my family. I know too many who were impacted by COVID, though, so I don’t take my health for granted.
It seemed like the vaccines — and the tetanus booster last December — hit me harder than a lot of people. It felt like every time I finally felt better I’d get another shot and have to slowly rebuild my base.
I am healthy, though, and I am grateful for that. Everything that has happened this year has helped me to get even more in tune with my body and what’s right for me.
The niggles It’s no secret that my Achilles Tendon bothered me — annoyingly on & off — for about a year. It seemed to have resolved — until I got my COVID vaccines. Since then it’s been a lot better again, but every once in a while it randomly aches. I was able to run 8 miles, twice, without (much) pain — that is, much pain afterwards. I’ve also taken to wearing compression after long runs most of the time, too, which seems to help. I’ve been working much more on Hatha Yoga as opposed to Yin Yoga (although I am still practicing Yin, too!) — that also seems to have helped.
Then there’s the high hamstring tendinitis that has also been a random companion for a long time. It also comes and goes. Recently it seems gone. Hoping by the end of the year both these niggles are in the rear view mirror!
Embracing recovery runs I have never been a huge fan of recovery runs. I’d rather walk, hike, or hop on the stationary bike. After reading Laura Norris’s detailed post on recovery runs, which unfortunately I didn’t bookmark and can’t find, I decided to give them a try.
I still am not a huge fan of the recovery run — but you know what? My body seems to really like it. It’s almost like hitting a reset button.
From 3 to 4 and back again Embracing those recovery runs made it relatively easy for me to move from running 3 x week to 4 x week. Until I felt really run down recently. I had been saying I was going to take a cutback week, but then the weather would be nice for my long run and I knew that wouldn’t last so I just had to take advantage of it.
Until I felt the need for a break. Which I took. Why not? I don’t compare my mileage or even my training to anyone else. Hopefully I’ll be back to 4 x week soon, and if not — it’s not a big deal.
Coaching myself I have worked with a coach, which I absolutely loved. It was great to have someone else tell me what to do and not have to think about it — not to mention having your own personal cheerleader.
It’s also great to coach yourself, because in the end, only you know what’s going on in your body.
Final Thoughts Despite niggles and sometimes feeling run down, this year has been going well. I truly don’t miss training for races — and neither, it seems, does my body. I make wiser decisions (mostly) when I’m just running for me. It’s easier to listen to my body and say nope! that’s not what it wants right now — or maybe it does.
The slow reopening of my state and the country for the most part has definitely been hopeful. I hope that when I do train for a race again I listen to my body and know when it’s time to push and when it’s time to back off. I will always train, because it prepares my body, but it’s just a race.
How do you feel about the first half of 2021?
Are you feeling hopeful?
What are you looking forward to in the second half of 2021?