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Archive for the ‘equipment’ Category

Full disclosure (I hope I don’t get clobbered for this): I’m not a huge fan of running skirts.

It’s not that I don’t like cutesy things. In fact, I LOVE cutesy things!

My main problem with running skirts is that, for the most part, they’re just not quite cutesy enough.

I mean, seriously, shorts are perfectly fine for running. So why add a skirt? Well, I would guess because it’s supposed to be cute! Well, if we’re trying to be cute, then let’s actually really truly be cute!

The majority of running skirts (of course not all) are a rather standard a-line style. It’s almost not even noticeable that it’s a skirt. And I have to admit…I find them kind of boring.

Now, don’t get me wrong, my running shorts are boring too. So I have nothing against you, or your boring running skirts. As long as you can comfortably run in your skirt, then it’s just fine…Or it would be if running skirts and running shorts cost the same amount of money. And that’s where running skirts have me confused. Why oh why do people pay $30+ for boring running skirts when they could just as easily buy running shorts that are $10 and just as boring?

So that’s kind of how my thinking has gone about running skirts. I just don’t get them…or I don’t get the standard a-line skirts that you so commonly see on women runners. They’re not significantly cuter than shorts, so why are women paying so much money for them?

Or…that’s what I thought. Then something happened:

I finally tried on a running skirt.

Trying on a running skirt for the first time.

I was at Target. It was on the clearance rack. I figured that I might as well try it on. So I did. It was one of the boring a-line styles that I just wrote about. And…I kind of understood running skirts a little more. It was cute. Now, don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t not cutesy enough for me to be willing to spend more than $10. But…it WAS cuter than my shorts (I think it helped that the hot pink stitching matched my hot pink compression socks). For $8, I figured it was worth it.

I am now the proud owner of a boring a-line running skirt.

(I think the skirt is a little more charming from behind…but maybe it’s that my behind is more charming than my front. I don’t know.

I modeled it for my husband, and he said it was “okay.” Then he saw the shorts underneath and told me that I should just wear the “booty shorts” since they were cuter than the skirt. Hmm…so, maybe this skirt is not cuter than shorts?

**I do think there are some noticeable exceptions to the boring a-line styles that are commonly seen. For example, Attica Athletic and Sparkle Skirts…they have a little fun flounce to them!

Do you love running skirts? Have I completely offended you by pointing out how blah a-line skirts are? Do you completely disagree with me? What do you prefer to wear on your bottom-half while you run?

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I know this is breaking my rule of not considering speed, but sometimes amazing things happen and rules must be broken.

If you wrote me off as just an average runner, I’ve got some news for you. Check out these splits:

Oh yeah! 2:04 minute mile! I’m a champion!

Do you see that first mile? Guys, I googled it, and I beat the world record for the fastest mile. Who knew I was this amazing?

And honestly, I didn’t even break a sweat in that 2:04 minutes.

I’m so excited!. I’m totally going to compete in the Olympics.

Or maybe I need a new way of calculating distance and speed. I mean, I doubt it, but I guess that first split could have been some sort of technical glitch.

Advice needed: Should I just break down and get a Garmin? I really really really don’t want to spend the money, and I hear so often about them being inconsistent, so I’m not sure it will be that much better than my phone. Better question: Do you have a Garmin that you would like to give me?

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This weekend I did something crazy and daring that is going to shock everyone.

Are you ready?

I bravely entered a running store. A running store, people!

What? No one’s impressed? You think I’m a crazy person?

But, it really is a big deal for me, because I’m scared of expensive things AND sales people…things that come in great supply at specialized running stores.

But, I realized that when it comes to choosing shoes that are good for my shins, I really didn’t know what I was doing. And I thought that maybe if I consulted with someone who did know, I might be able to do something that would be really good for my body (but, admittedly, bad for my checkbook).

So, I took a deep breath and went to a running store. And they were nice to me there. And hopefully got me some shoes that will help me. AND if the shoes don’t help, I can return them even if they’re covered in mud. So that’s nice.

The sales girl said that I “overpronate,” and that I should get a stability shoe to help keep my feet in the right place. She also said that my feet are pretty much the exact same size, which means I’m much superior to the average person. Okay, it really just means my feet are almost the same size, which she said is very unique.

So things went well at the running store. And it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be…well, you know, until I had to pay.

My new Brooks Adrenalines. So far, so good!

So, after leaving I was thinking, “What if these shoes turn out to be no good for some reason? Then what will I do?” And I had to remind myself that if they do turn out to be no good, it’s okay, because their return policy says I can return my shoes at any time for any reason. So it’s all going to be okay.

I also check Zappos.com to price compare, and the shoes were the same price at Zappos…so yes, they were 3x the price that I have ever paid for a pair of running shoes, but apparently they were priced right on par with what other people charge as well.

Tell me the best thing about specialty running stores…or tell me about your running store fear, if you’re afraid like me!

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Fuel Belt

For the first time in my life, I ran with hydration!

Keep in mind, the farthest I’ve ever run was 13.1 miles, and that was during a race, where there were water stands. So, it’s not as bad as it sounds that I have never run with hydration. But it’s still kind of bad.

I figured that if I’m going to start running farther than 10 miles, I’m going to need to bring along some hydration. I wasn’t sure what to carry my hydration in for these longer runs. I definitely could not carry a bottle, even if it had a clever carrying strap, because my hands are already very full with Ada the Dog’s leash, Ada the Dog’s poop when I’m not lucky (don’t worry, I carry it in plastic bags…otherwise that would be really icky), keys, and my phone. I told Husband Saign that I wanted to get a belt with some water bottles, and he got me a Fuel Belt!

My Fuel Belt has two bottles that are a little over 7 oz, and a little zip-up pocket. It seemed pretty great (though I’d love it if it had a pocket big enough for my phone), but I wasn’t sure how I’d end up actually liking it on my run.

On Saturday I went for an 8 mile run, and used the Fuel Belt for the first time. I thought it would be fine to use half-tabs of Nuun in my <8 oz bottles, which I did. (A half-tab of Nuun is meant to be mixed with 8 oz of water) The Nuun was a little overpowering, since it was mixed strong, so I think next time I’ll do one bottle with strong Nuun and one with water.

I wasn’t sure where the Fuel Belt should sit, but I thought it made sense to put it on my hips. This worked out wonderfully…until I started running and my slippery shorts allowed the belt to slide up and then bounce around with each step.

This is where the belt was sitting prior to me hiking it up. Do you like the self-portait of my butt? Awesome.

I ended up tightening the belt at my natural waistline…like Steve Urkel would wear a Fuel Belt, if he were a runner. Yep. But that made the thing stop bouncing, and it worked out well from there.

I really liked running with hydration! Every 15-20 minutes I stopped and took a few sips while walking, and then went back on my merry way. I felt energized!

I can’t believe I’ve gone my whole life not carrying hydration. Why didn’t anyone tell me how great it would be?

I also realized while running that my Fuel Belt has some elastic in the belt which I didn’t notice at first, which helps make it more comfortable and flexible while running.

So, I’m sticking with the Fuel Belt! I really liked it!

How do you carry hydration while you run? Any tips?

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Sock Skeptic

Once upon a time, approximately 10 years ago, I worked at a group home for adults with developmental disabilities. It was a pretty fun job. Most of our residents had certain “Occupational Goals” that we had to help them meet…such as walking in their walker for a certain amount of time, or spending time listening to a book.

Well, one day a physical therapist added a new occupational goal for one of our residents. This resident was to wear “compression socks” for a certain amount of time each day. I was the one who had brought this resident to the physical therapist appointment when this goal was assigned, and I was not impressed. I remember the physical therapist took very little time to actually interact with the resident, and I felt confused about what service she had actually provided. To have her add a goal of him wearing super expensive socks that were (as far as I could tell) just normal socks, made me particularly skeptical. I even remember asking the nurse what the socks were supposed to do, and she said something about how they were supposed to increase circulation. I remember just thinking, “Um, those are just ridiculously expensive socks, they’re not magic.” But the nurse and my supervisor insisted that these silly looking knee socks were quite important.

Enter March 2012, when I decided to run my first full marathon, and made more of an effort to learn about the sport.

I was surprised when on running blog after running blog I heard about “compression socks.” Oh great! It had moved beyond that crazy physical therapist in Minnesota, and now apparently the entire running world believed in these magic socks?

I was skeptical but curious…was it possible that socks could actually help with running? How were they supposed to help?

Then, Katie commented on a post I had written about my shins hurting, and suggested I address the issue with compression calf sleeves.

What? This compression stuff could help with my shin pain? Oh dang, now things are getting really crazy!

Well, I was really, really super curious after learning that, so I did some research and learned what compression socks could allegedly help with.

Again, I was curious, but still skeptical.

So, what’s an academic skeptic to do? Find a scholarly article that addresses the issue, of course! My research led me to a peer-reviewed (of course) article that indicates that compression does, in fact, help with running in a number of ways!

Kemmler, W., Von Stengel, S., Kockritz, C., Mayhew, J., Wassermann, A., & Zapf, J. (2009). Effect of compression stockings on running performance in men runners. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 23: 101-105

Oh my goodness, this isn’t about crazy people believing in magic socks! This is legitimate stuff here! I can’t wait to try a pair…after I stop hyperventilating about the price.

This is what I will look like in compression socks. There is a heart next to my shins because they are happy.

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Shoe Confession

I have a confession.

I’m not trying to be dramatic here, I really am super, super embarrassed about this. But since this blog is all about what I’m learning in my training, I think it’s important that I tell everyone the truth.

I have shoe sinned.

I knew better. I really did. But awhile back when the running shoes that I was wearing were getting worn, and it was time to buy some new ones, I did something really, really terrible.

I bought running shoes because they were a good deal, not because they were good for me. The shoes were 1 size too big. Yes, I’ve been training for a marathon in size 10 shoes when I’m a size 9. It’s been really bad. I knew I was making a bad choice when I bought them. My running friend told me to return them. My husband told me to return them. My mother told me to return them. But did I listen? No! I had found running shoes for $15, and I was not going to return them! (Yes, I have a thing for $15 shoes…the first pair worked out okay though, since they were the right size).

This was the best I could do to show you how much extra space was in the toe of my shoes.

This whole time I’ve known I was being bad, running in those huge shoes, but I was too scared to tell anyone. I didn’t want to be reprimanded or judged.

When I first started my marathon training, I was super busy because I was preparing for a really, really, really important test. My plan was that when I finished with said test, I would go to a real running store to be fitted for legitimate shoes that actually fit me. (FYI: going into a real running store is a huge step forward for me because I’m very, very afraid of expensive things). The only problem was, after finishing my test, other things got in the way…I had to take time to get my Nuun Hood to Coast application together…and then I lost my wallet…and then I was sick, etc, etc, etc.

Well guess what? I finally got new running shoes! Ones that are in my size! They’re REALLY fancy! Although, I chickened out on going to the running store. Instead I went to a chain sports store and bought a pair on sale for $40. BUT just to make you a little proud of me, I’ll tell you the truth: I passed up a pair that were prettier than the ones I got and on clearance for $30. But I was not going for pretty or super cheap…I was going for comfort and cheap. (Cheap and super cheap are different).

So, here they are. I certainly don’t like the colors at all, but cheapos like me don’t get to buy running shoes for prettiness. They have to go for function. And these babies have it! They’re very comfortable AND actually fit my feet!

My new shoes...in my size!

Of course, I haven’t worn them on a run yet, so I’ll report back about whether or not they turn out to be everything I’ve dreamed of after I’ve tested them out. I’m really sorry for making this terrible mistake.

Do you forgive me?

Check it out, this kid loves them as well:

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Need a Fanny Pack…

I’m going to tell a tragic story. Do not become overwhelmed, there is a great lesson within:

Last year Ada the Dog and I went for a run in the morning. As we left for the run, I clipped a Caribbeaner with my keys on it to Ada the Dog’s leash. We went for a run, and it was mostly uneventful. As we were running through a small park, I heard a strange noise nearby…ping. ping. Ping. Ping.

What was that?

I stopped running and looked around, trying to figure out what I had heard. I then realized something terrible…the “ping” noise was the sound of my keys flying off the leash, one by one. It was still dark out, but through pure luck I was able to find all of my keys…all except my car key.

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This is not a recommended way to carry one's keys.

I should pause here to confess to you that I bought my car from a bank after it was repossessed from its previous owner. Therefore, I only had the one key for it. You may think it was very stupid of me to only have one key, but because it was an electronic key, I couldn’t just have it made at any old hardware store. I had to have it made by the dealer, which meant it was around $75. For a key. Okay, maybe normal people wouldn’t have thought that was all that bad, but I love to save money, so I didn’t have an extra key made. I figured I would just have to make sure to not lose the one key that I had. For 4.5 years I used this car with just the one key, with no problem. Until this sad, sad day. :(

I looked and looked for that key, but couldn’t find it in the dark. I decided to go home, get ready for work, and come back when it was light out. (Thank goodness I have a motorcycle, so I would still be able to get to work that day if I was unable to find the key).

I was posing. In real life I ALWAYS wear a helmet. You should wear a helmet too!!!

After getting ready for work, I headed back to the park and searched and searched. I couldn’t find it anywhere. That night I got soaked in the rain on my motorcycle on my commute home. That weekend I had to hire a locksmith to make me a new key. It cost me a lot more than the $75 I could have paid the dealer for a key when I first got the car.

About a week later, I went running through that same park and saw my shredded Petsmart keychain card…the one that was attached to my car key. (Park Service had mowed the lawn). I knew my key had to be near, so I searched and searched. I walked back and forth, back and forth, looking. I didn’t ever find that key.

You should also know that it was not just the key that went missing…it was the key and the remote lock thingy magigy. Also, you should know that when I had the locksmith come, I didn’t want to pay him an extra $50 for another electronic key, so I still only have the one key.

I implore you people, do NOT clip your keys to your dog leash while you run!

I wonder: How do normal people carry their keys while they run? Right now when I run I have my phone (tracking my miles), Ada the Dog’s leash, my keys, and any hats or mittens that I might have worn on the run that I decided to strip off. It’s ridiculous. And honestly, sometimes it’s hard to take off my hat or mittens because my hands are so full! I just don’t know what to do! Perhaps I’ll have to flashback to the 90s and whip out my neon fanny pack to come along with me while I run. That thing was awesome…I thought at the time.

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How Far Did I Really Run???

Okay, so there’s something you should know: I’m very frugal. Some people might even call me cheap.

When it comes to running, I’ve never really worried about speed or distance. I’ve just done what felt good. I’ve run one half-marathon, and when I trained for it, I just assumed that I was running my typical comfortable 9 minute miles, and calculated my distance from that. (So, if I was supposed to run 5 miles, I assumed that if I went for 45 minutes, I’d covered my 5 miles). I never calculated distance or speed. I just guessed. It ended up working out okay, my goal was to run it in under 2 hours, and I finished in 1:56ish.

Well, now that I’m planning to run another half marathon, of course, I want to beat my previous time. So now I am concerned about speed. I considered buying a fancy running watch that tracks my distance, speed, and time, but since I’m so cheap, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’ve been using a free iPhone app to track my runs, and while I’ve always believed it wasn’t completely accurate, I figured that it was close enough. Until today.

Today at first things were going as expected according to my iPhone app, but then all of a sudden it was saying that I was going much faster, and had run much farther than I’d actually run.

I’d love to be able to claim the distance and speed that my phone is giving me credit for, but it’s a lie. I was probably running more like 9:15 miles. Now that I am trying to watch my speed and push myself to get faster, I’m a little sad that I’m not able to accurately track my miles. I just don’t think I’m ready to commit to the expense of a fancy running watch.

I don’t want this post to be too sad, so I’ll tell you something special: I’m working on a submission for Nuun Hood To Coast’s relay team! It looks like the most amazing thing ever, from a great company! The application is due tomorrow, and mine’s not yet done, but I’ll give you a little clue about what my application will include:

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