Friday, December 31, 2010

So You Wanna Run, eh?

Ah, it's the start of a new year. I think many new year resolutions focus on getting into shape. The gyms are packed because everyone is gung ho on their new adventure. Some will change their diet, while others will weight train, some will take yoga classes, and some will start running. This is a running blog, so let's talk about running. So you wanna start running huh?

How do you start running?
Whether you're a newbie runner, or an ex-runner trying to get back into the game, you will need to take it slow. I used to HATE running with the passion. I was never good at it. I was never able to run more than 2 minutes at a time. And by the time those 2 minutes were up I would be huffing and puffing like crazy. You see, no one ever taught me how to run. I was under the impression that you just went out and did it. I assumed that some were just born to run. But boy was I wrong.

A friend told me about this running program for newbies. It's called Couch to 5k, and I HIGHLY recommend it. HIGHLY. I witnessed how much weight he was losing, and how long he was able to run. Being overweight myself, I finally gave it a whirl. I started running back in July of 2010. It starts off slow so you get used to the activity. After completing the program, you will be amazed at how far and how long you are able to run. I'd love to hear how the program worked for you.

When do you run?
This depends on your schedule. Are you a morning person, or an evening person? I decided that what worked out for me was running in the morning. For me, that sets the rest of my day. By the time I get home from work I am MUCH too busy and tired to do anything else. In the morning, I literally roll out of bed, change into some old shorts and a t-shirt, and go on my run.
Where do you run?
Are you a gym rat or a homebody? Do you prefer to run inside or outside? This also depends on when you schedule your runs. I used to be a gym rat, but the gyms aren't open when I run. And I realized that I enjoy running outside, so outside it is. Now, I do have a treadmill at home. I purchased it because I knew I wouldn't be able to run outside in the rain. Well, I prefer not to. But if you're into that, by all means, GO FOR IT!

Do I need to buy special running shoes?
This is a tough one for me because I am a minimalist shoe runner. I also run barefoot in my neighborhood. I know! It sounds crazy. But I'm not the only one doing this. I had a friend who ran for years. Well, until the pain was too much to handle. Many shod runners (runners who wear running shoes) experience lower back pain, aching knees and shin splints. I thought running was supposed to be fun, so I didn't want to experience those symptoms. From the beginning I decided that I was not going to wear running shoes, and it's been a blast for me.

Now there are some shod runners who do not experience these aches and pains. They have learned to run in shoes without doing a heel strike. One form is called The Pose Method. Another one is called Chi Running. I have not read either of these books yet, but have read blogs about those who have used these techniques. I did read the book Born To Run by Christopher McDougall. It does not focus on technique, but is an interesting book about running.

So if you're going to be a shod runner, I suggest you to go to a running specialty store such as Road Runner Sports or Fleet Feet and get properly fitted for shoes. Here's a post from Coyote Running in southern California regarding getting fitted for shoes.

What other gear do I need?
You'll have to play with this one. Some just go out and run without any gear. Running is a pretty minimalist activity. Me? Well I enjoy listening to music, so I went to WalMart and bought an arm band to hold my iPhone, and a set of headphones that wrapped around my ears. I also downloaded Robert Ullrey's podcasts. He tells you when to walk and when to run. It's like having a running coach right there with you.

What if I feel like quitting?
Think of why you started running in the first place. What was your motivation?
  • To lose those donut rolls off your waist. 
  • To improve your health. 
  • Increase activity in your life.
  • To build endurance.
  • To run a marathon.
We invest so much time in other aspects of our lives that we forget to take care of the most important thing we own, our own bodies. What helped me was writing a blog to journal my progress. I told my friends and family about it. I signed up for twitter and dailymile to connect with others. And I read blogs from other runners. I put myself out there so I would be held accountable for my actions. There is a lot of support in the running world. It does get easier as you incorporate running into your life as a daily activity such as brushing your teeth, taking a shower, eating breakfast and so forth.

Running is FUN! It's liberating! It's addicting! Our bodies are awesome machines. And when you run that first race, you'll finally understand what I mean. I still consider myself a newbie runner, but if you have any questions I'll try my best to assist.

For more motivation and tips, visit RunAddicts.

Happy running!

Happy New Year!

This morning I performed my last workout of the year. Can you guess what I did? 

Cross train?
No, I did that the night before.

Ride on the recumbent bike?
Nope. Try again.

I ended the year with a 15 minute mile run.

And yes, it's still quite slow and not far at all, but I am working on building my endurance. I just got an email stating that Tanya P, a dailymile friend, invited me to a 100 mile challenge for January. Hmm, I just don't know. I just started running again. I'd have to run 3 miles a day, EVERYDAY. That's a 5k EVERYDAY. Yikes! That would totally work for fulfilling 365 workout. Gosh, I can't believe I am actually thinking about it. Not much time left to decide, 5 more hours. 

So everyone is talking about goals for this new year. Do you have any? 
Mine is to....
  • stick to running 5k races
  • increase my speed
  • increase my distance
  • continue to include cross training 
Basically just continue my path to a healthier me!

Well I'm staying in as usual for New Year's. Yes, I know, pretty boring. But I'm definitely looking forward to what 2011 will bring.
Wish you all a very healthy and prosperous Happy New Year! Be safe out there.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My First Trip To Yosemite Totally Rocked!

Last month, the boys and I met up with my cousins in Yosemite National Park. I have always wanted to go. During the last couple of summers I kept hearing of more and more family and friends heading to Yosemite. I was a bit jealous. Once my cousin invited me and the boys, I accepted with the quickness. 

As we approached, the drive was full of awesome sights. Please excuse my pictures as they do not do them justice. It didn't take much to get me and lil man excited. I couldn't believe I was finally in Yosemite. My toe still ached so I couldn't run, (sniff-sniff). But I did enjoy all the walks. And we did A LOT of walking.

We rented a spot near Curry Village. (just the sound of the name makes me hungry) A nice little spot for our tiny tent. It really is tiny at 7ft x 8ft. But it fits a full size air mattress and 3 duffel bags nicely. We were near 5000 ft in November, so we expected some rain. To help shelter us we put our easy up above our tent. We went to bed early that night. It was right before 7:30pm. It was getting chilly and we snuggled under 5 layers of blankets. In the morning, I woke up to a snowy morning. I had such a huge smile on my face. It was SO beautiful. None of us expected that it would snow at our elevation. It was such a pleasant surprise which enhanced the beauty of the area. We enjoyed every minute of play time in the snow.

But look at what I found? 
What type of animal has a ginormous footprint like this? 
I really do want to know. 

Our camper neighbor across the way said that he saw a bear walk through our campsite around 7:30pm the night before. We had just gotten into our tent to go to sleep. I knew I heard something, and now I know that what I heard was the bear. Yes, Yosemite is full of bears. We have to store all food and anything with a scent (lotion, toothpaste, etc) in these bear lockers. None of these items can be stored in cars or campers either.

Well as it got colder, my cousin decided to rent a tent cabin in Curry Village. And well, we thank him for that because it did get quite cold. I believe it snowed another few inches. The tent cabins were cool. They literally are little cabins with a heater. There is no bathroom or sink, just beds, a chair and a set of shelves. And the bear lockers were right outside.


The one thing that the snow does not allow you to experience in Yosemite is hiking. So we'll have to return during warmer weather to do some hiking. It will be a different experience without the snow. But I think it will be just as fun.

I love living in California. We have the beach, desert, mountains, lakes, and snow all within hours of each other. I am blessed.

Monday, December 27, 2010

My Feet Tell Me What Shoes They Like

As I mentioned before, I've always enjoyed walking around barefoot at home. But I would also wear all sorts of different shoes and sandals outside. Some with more cushion than others. Like most people, I really didn't know that less cushion is better for your feet. Many would still disagree with this, but I'm not here to convince you - just to inform you of what I've learned.

It's been about 3 months since I began re-training my foot muscles. When I started the c25k program I knew I didn't want to wear running shoes and it really worked out for me. It was not until I got my Vibrams when I really started to think about minimalist shoes and going barefoot. Since then I've noticed quite a change on which type of footwear my feet prefer. It's as if my feet are talking to me.

If I'm not walking barefoot in the house or outside, then I wear shoes that have thin soles. My favorite pair to wear now are my old Airwalks. They look exactly like chucks, but they're by Airwalk. 

Earlier this month I had to get gussied up to attend my brother in law's graduation. It was a pretty formal event, so I had to wear fancy shoes to go with my dress. It had about a 1.5 - 2 inch heel and my feet were screaming. The toes were getting squished. I couldn't wait to get to the table so I could take the shoes off. We had to stand up and sit down throughout the night's ceremony. And of course each time I had to leave the table I had to put my shoes back on. There was a time when my foot wouldn't slip into the shoe anymore. It's as if it told me that it had had it with those darn shoes. Just look at them!
 my poor toes were cramped, sorry guys
 I feel pain just looking at this heel

I had to force it in. As soon as we got to our hotel at the end of the night, I kicked those darn shoes off and walked around barefoot. My feet thanked me. So yeah, I'm still no Carrie Bradshaw.

The other day I dressed up all in white to participate in my company's Spirit Week. I have a pair of white Easy Spirits that went well with my attire. Unfortunately my foot, the one that had the injured toe, did not like that shoe at all. I'd step a certain way or what not, and it would ache. I felt it several times that day. I couldn't wait to go home to take off my shoes. The next few days I wore my Airwalks and my foot was fine.
my easy spirits

I looked at my inventory of shoes and realized that my feet are only happy wearing 4 particular pairs of shoes.

My Vibram KSO's. My toe shoes. My monkey feet shoes. Whatever you want to call them, they are comfortable.

My Airwalks.

My sandals.

And these Cayden Sport Casual shoes by Predictions. They have quite a thin sole and my feet love 'em. Hop over to your Payless Shoe Source and try them on.

So I think it's time for me to donate my other shoes and get more chucks/Airwalks and Predictions shoes. See you at Payless Shoe Source.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Christmas Fatty

Um yeah, that would be me. Tis the season I guess. I didn't go into the Christmas season wanting to be a fatty, it just kinda happened. I'm sure many are experiencing this. Luckily it hasn't been too bad, but I admit to eating more than necessary quite a bit this month. Oopsie. You see, I'm a brown bagger. Meaning that I bring my lunch to work. I rarely go out to lunch. I'm pretty frugal and this way I have a better chance at watching what I eat. So when I go out to eat, I sometimes indulge.

I had lunch with coworkers TWICE in 2 weeks. One was at this neat pizza restaurant called Rocco's. It was good. I inhaled my 10-inch personal pizza. Good thing I got veggies (onions, olives and mushrooms) on a thin crust. The price was awesome too. I'd definitely go back.

The other lunch was at a Thai restaurant several coworkers rave about. Wat Phou Thai. Cool, now I got to try it out. The prices were awesome and the food was good. We had chicken satay and fried tofu as an appetizer. My meal was yummie chicken curry with white rice and egg rolls. I don't eat much rice anymore, let alone white rice. But it just goes hand in hand with curry. I was stuffed. It was good and I'd definitely go back.

Oh, and we can't forget the goodies at work. Orange Nut Bread and cookies. Yum! I mean who can resist these delicious cookies from C-Dog and his wife? Mmmm.  It was like a cookie buffet!

Initial thought was to eat a few and bring them home. Um no, that didn't happen. They were just TOO darn good. I ate them all in a span of 2 days. By the second day I was completely sugared out. I actually did bring home 2 cookies for my boys.

Tonight I'm sure there will be awesome food to grub on for Christmas Eve. I can't wait. And tomorrow we're smoking 3 racks of ribs and a tri-tip. My mouth is salivating. Yeah, did I mention that I really like to eat?

But even though I have been eating food that is not normally part of my everyday diet, I am still incorporating the good stuff. And my food portions haven't expanded much. I am drinking lots of water and green tea. I still have eggs every morning, and bring lots of fruit to work for me to snack on and help me stay satisfied. And I am still working out every single day. If you follow me on twitter, dailymile, or my 365 Workout page - you would see this. I've also started running again, so that's definitely going to help.

Like everyone else, it will be back to the grind once the new year begins. Good thing I'm still eating alright, so getting 100% back on track won't be terribly difficult.

So from my family to yours.....

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

11 Days Back and a 15 Minute Mile

11 days ago I ran on the treadmill for the first time in almost 2 months. To slowly ease back into running again I was doing a walk/run drill. Each time I would increase my running time by a minute or two, while the walking time stayed at 2 minutes. I was feeling better each time. You can check out my log here.

I can't believe what 6 or so weeks has done to my running form and breathing. My form feels ok, but I am constantly thinking about it. And I am wiped out. Phew! But I am slowly building up my endurance again and the progress I am making feels gr-r-r-r-r-eat.

I am not worried about being speedy at this point. I'm only running at 15 minute per mile pace. I just want to be able to run for a certain amount of time. The goal is 30 minutes. Then from there I can work on getting back to my 12:06 - 12:16 mile pace. Eh, it's not fast at all, but that's where I was before I stubbed my toe.

Today I decided to run again. I ran yesterday so I thought about doing cross training, but the body wanted to run. (listen your body, it knows what it wants) I originally had planned on running for 10min without stopping. After 10min went by, so did another minute and then yet another. I started to get a bit tired, so I stopped at 15 minutes. But it's 15 minutes, yo! I am super happy with this accomplishment. 15 minutes without stopping. Not too shabby if I do say so myself. Could ya tell that I'm happy? Yay me!

But now I've set a base and need to run for more than 15 minutes in my future runs. I'm always looking for motivation to help pump me up. Don't be shy, wish me luck!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Arctic Ease Review

Shortly after receiving the samples, I had injured my foot. In the dark, I kicked my son's step stool with my 2nd toe. OUCH! It hurt so bad. And why couldn't it have been the big toe? Well the pain spread to TOFP after attempting to run on it. I was sidelined from running for over a month. I tell ya, it was quite convenient to get those samples when I did.

Opening The Package
I actually found it a bit difficult. The perforations did not seem very pronounced. I grabbed a scissor to cut it open.

It has a bit of a slimy feeling. It looked like rolled up gauze made from haupia. It was a bit cool to the touch, as it should be. Finding the beginning to unwrap from was not so clear, it looked seamless. I turned and felt for it a few times and finally found a spot. Upon unrolling, both sides looked very similar. But the further you unroll, eventually you see the logo which is not the sticky side. Cut what you need and put the rest back in the resealable bag.

How To Use It
Per the directions, you 1) must make sure the area you want to cover is clean. Placing a piece on the area to be iced does not always work the best. But that depends on what area you need to ice. 2) Wrap it around so it fits nicely and is held together. I took both hands and cupped the area I wrapped. I put pressure and held it there for about 45 seconds. It will still feel loose, but after about 5 minutes or so, it will begin to dry.

How It Felt
It's not freezing cold, but does feel good and provides enough of a chill to get the job done. I kept my foot as still as possible. To move I either hopped on the other foot, or took a few soft steps on my heel. And then it hit me why this was a great product. It allows you to be mobile! I've read it on the website time and time again, but actually experiencing it made a world of difference.

Other times I had to ice, I had to sit and fiddle around with the ice pack until I found the perfect placement for it. In addition to that, I had to wrap the ice pack in a towel to avoid freezing my skin. With Arctic Ease, you just wrap it, put pressure on it and then you're free to move around. 

I am thoroughly impressed and will be telling my friends and family about this product. If you haven't tried it yet, I suggest you should. You can find them in several retailers. Or you can visit their website for more info.

If you have tried this product, I'd love to hear about your experience with it. Please comment.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Trader Joe's Kettle Corn and Spiced Cider - Me Likey

I do about 95% of my shopping at Trader Joe's. It's the closest health food grocer in my area, and I still drive a good 8 miles each way. But it's worth it to me. I have my staples that I buy there each week, but if you suggest I try something then I'm up for it. Bring it on!

Earlier this week Di over at The Treadmill Diaries mentioned the Trader Joe's Spiced Cider. I've seen it all the time since I always grab their Cranberry Apple juice. And as you read in the comments, I said I'd give it a whirl. Well last week the boys came grocery shopping with me. (it's a rare event as they both grab items and toss them in the cart) Hubby actually picked up the Spiced Cider. Later that night we tried it.

Son: mmmm, this tastes like apples.
Hubby: It's good.
Me: It tastes like apple pie.

And with that said, I think we found a winner. Although it does not have any added sugar, it is quite sweet so I can't drink too much in one sitting. Yes, I'm one of those people that dilute my juice. What?! I love my water and don't require a lot of flavor in my drinks. Well, smoothies are a different story.

As I'm always looking to mix up our snacks, I finally decided to grab a 6 pack of Lite Kettle Corn. Me and my son LOVE kettle corn. Not the best snack, but it tastes super delish. I pack our lunches because it's cheaper and healthier. I opened up a bag for snack today. And let me tell you, this stuff was YUMM-O! It tasted just as good as the bags sold at carnivals. And at about 50 cents a bag, you can't go wrong.
Ding Ding Ding - we have another winner! 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Runner Once Again - YES!

I did. I really truly did. Yippie! It was awesome. I felt such a sense of accomplishment. I strapped on my Vibrams and hopped on the treadmill. 
  • walked for 2min
  • RAN for 5min
  • walked for 2min
  • RAN for 3min
  • walked for 5min
Yes, I know. I only ran for 8 minutes total. But I did it! Boy of boy. It has been a super long several weeks I tell ya. I went through so many different emotions during this time. 

 EnviousI was envious of those who were running longer and faster.
Frustrated - Frustrated at the fact that it was taking so long for a stubbed toe to heal.
Mad - Mad at myself for being so clumsy and getting hurt in the first place.
Annoyed - Annoyed at the fact that I had to miss out on my first Turkey Trot.
Depressed - Due to that fact that I would have to start all over and build up my endurance again.
Sad - Sad because something that made me happy was missing in my life.

Who knew that running would make me feel like this? It was quite a roller coaster of emotions. Some days were better than others. But I'm glad to FINALLY be over this ride. I am back! And I can't wait to start logging the miles again.

During this time, I learned....
- how to deal with my emotions
- that I needed to find a way to see things in a positive light
- be patient
- how important it is to cross train

I am going to take it slow. (a lesson that is constantly being thrown in my face) It's going to be hard, but it's a price I must pay. In a few months I'll be up to my old speed and distance, which wasn't that impressive to start with, but was  for me personally. I am now in a place where I can start thinking about runs I want to do next year. Maybe even starting off with a run with my friend Sherry.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Vibram Buddy

Status On My Foot
So it's been a week since I started walking on the treadmill. I'd push it a bit doing a faster walk with a form that's similar to how I run. I actually jogged for a few minutes this last go round. The foot itself feels fine, but the toe feels a tab bit weird as I lift it off the ground (treadmill). Still has a bit of soreness which is frustrating. But still, I'm walking barefoot as much as possible and doing barefoot activities to keep my foot muscles strong. While in the parking garage in my Airwalks, or even barefoot at home, I'll do a bit of sprint here and there. My body is still aching to run. I'll continue to walk on the treadmill and evaluate the foot again this week. Stay tuned!

Vibram Buddies!
Next month, I plan to visit my good friend Sherry who has returned to running thanks to her new Vibrams. She stopped running because she was experiencing all those awful aches and pains that shod runners face. To stay active she would walk. But walking was boring for her, and she would end up running. And of course, the cycle continues and she would be in pain again. Sherry started doing more hikes locally and during her travels abroad.

I am hoping that during my visit, our Vibrams can meet. LOL Do you have a Vibram buddy? I am hoping to go for a run with her. That is yet to be determined. Stay tuned!

My First Race Next Year?
I haven't really thought about next year's races. I have been reading that many are getting excited and signing up for them. But with somewhat of a bum toe, I didn't want to depress myself. There are several races around Lake Merritt, and I asked Sherry if she wanted to one of the 5k's with me. She gladly agreed, and that's the only race I've really thought about so far.

It will be fun to run with a friend. I won't be going for PR, but for fun. I've never ran with anyone before. I do all my runs solo. I think it's because I'm slow. That's one reason why I haven't checked into any running groups in my area. Heck, I have no idea if I'd be able to talk when I run. (another reason) I guess I'll be finding out in a few months. Stay tuned!

Do you prefer to run with others, or alone?
Do you try to break your PR with every race? Or just run for the heck of running?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Thomas Jane - A Minimalist Runner

Yes, the Punisher. I wrote a post about his interview on the George Lopez Show. I've noticed that he pronounces the toe shoes wrong. He says 'vigh-brams' instead of 'veebrams'. Just something that stuck out to me.

If not wearing his monkey shoes, he prefers walking in his bare feet.

Pumping gas in bare feet.

Save darfur launch party.

Well here are some other links of him and his Vibrams.

He gets crap for not wearing shoes. (contains video)

Playing guitar barefoot.

Wearing Vibrams at 'Hung' premiere.

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