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March 2008

The More (Feet) - The Merrier!

A week ago, I joined Art for a 9 mile run.   Alone a 9 mile run would have been close to torture for me because my mileage hasn't increased as planned so it was a pretty big leap.   And I was sick...and tired....and too busy...and blah, blah, blah....all my usual excuses when I need to run a distance that is harder than usual and running by myself.

Dscn1776_2But with a friend, nine miles was just enough time to get caught up, learn a few new things (can't wait to read the book he mentioned!), and also get in a great run.  Close to the end, Art remarked something like, "Just like two heads are better than one.  Four feet are better than two."  I must agree.  Time flies and miles pass quickly when you are having fun.  Running is fun(ner) with friends!

This isn't any new concept in running - but it is new for me.  I ran alone for most of my first 12 years.  Running partners were hard to find, schedules were tough to coordinate and I was nervous about showing off my lack of speed to anyone else.  In the last year, through this blog and now through our online community, Runners Lounge, I have found my running missed out all those years.   If I had found a good running partner years ago, I wonder what more I may have accomplished with my running.   

This weekend, Tom and I were in Chicago for the Expo for the Shamrock Shuffle.  30,000 runners ready to run a great 8K to kick off the racing season.  And the most common thing we found is that most were running with a friend, had been talked into it by a friend or told the friend to register.   Friends help friends run races!

If you have a run or race coming up and you feel dread, worry, concern creeping in - grab a friend.  Find a running partner to run with.   You will be amazed how easy the run becomes.

And if you can't find anyone in your physical area, find a friend in the LoungSearch_profilese.   Go to Connect  with Runners and Search Profiles.   You can search by age, gender, location, favorite runs, if they have a blog, years running or when they joined.   Stop by and say hi to a few Loungers and see what you have in common.

Another way to connect with runners is through the Lounge Groups.  Lounge Groups are created by other Loungers to talk about upcoming races, shared interests, or running challenges.   A few of the Groups that have recently been added and need some members include:

The greatest thing about running is the running community.  I hope you find a chance this week to enjoy the company of another runner.

Open Mic Friday: Meet Topher

Open_mic_friday_2 We hope you've already met Topher through his blog.  Amy and I stumbled across him last summer and instantly admired his blended passion for running and donuts.  He's a great ambassador for both.  We appreciate his wit and friendliness and wanted to share him with others who might might want some uplifting.

Tell us about your unique relationship with donuts and running.

First_race2 Contrary to popular belief, I don’t eat donuts quite as often as one would think for someone who has a blog titled I’ll Run for Donuts. Don’t get me wrong, I love donuts and I’ll run faster if there’s the promise of donuts at the end. My first job was working in a Daylight Donut shop. I guess that explains why my Wranglers said “husky” on the tag and I could barely run a lap around the track in gym. My love for running started in 2006 when we bought a treadmill. I started out walking, but I was eventually walking so fast that I figured I might as well run. I ran my first ever race, a 2-miler, in a small town in Montana in 2006 and placed 1st in my age group. That race taught me one thing: it’s easy to place 1st when you’re the only runner in your age group.

Advice for a beginning runner

It didn’t take long to realize that running isn’t necessarily a competitive sport. Sure there are those elites who race to win, but most of us seem to do it for the t-shirts. What I found as a beginning runner is that experienced runners are thrilled to see new people take up the sport and are more than willing to take you under their wing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of people who run faster, weigh 30 pounds less than you, or have cooler running gear. They’re a valuable resource and seem to really enjoy helping newbies figure things out. Blogging is a great way to build your network and learn from others’ triumphs and mistakes, and it’s fun to go back to early posts and see how far you’ve come.

You have a great blog.  How did you get started and what keeps your creative juices flowing?

I started blogging a few years ago to document things happening in our lives for the benefit of family members who live far away. Then I found myself writing more about running and less about what household object one of my kids got stuck in which unlikely place. I think said family members got tired of reading about chaffing and blisters so I started I’ll Run for Donuts. As far as finding things to write about, I start out by meditating while listening to the cool sounds of either Yanni or John Tesh. When that doesn’t work, I usually just write about something funny that I saw or did on my last run. It’s a crap shoot, really.

Fam_closeup_4 What are your dreams and goals for running? 

I have a list of dream races I’d like to run. I’d love to run the Dunkin Donuts Cape Cod Marathon (for obvious reasons), the Tokyo Marathon (because I lived there for several years), the NYC Marathon (what a cool way to see the city), and Big Sur (awesome scenery), to name a few. I’ve yet to run a full marathon, but it’s a goal for 2008. I really enjoy the half, though, because it’s an easier training schedule and oftentimes people don’t listen to the “half” part. Then you end up getting credit in their minds for running a full marathon. Who am I to say “No, dummy, I said HALF marathon”? I’d love to cross the finish line of a marathon hand-in-hand with my wife. She rocks! I have also run several fun runs with my three boys. I hope they grow up to be runners, too.

Any heroes?

Anyone who overcomes a challenge to reach a goal is definitely a hero to me. There are many people in my life who fit that description, and they are a constant reminder to me that whatever one sets their mind to can be achieved.

Running tights or bike shorts?

I think we’re finished here.

Take It and Run Thursday: Overcoming Injuries

Take_it_and_run_thursday_2 Welcome to Take It and Run Thursday!

It's our way to bring together the knowledge of all of us ordinary runners.  It's the virtual equivalent to putting our virtual heads together.  Even though many of us aren't elite athletes, coaches or authors, it doesn't mean that we haven't earned a well deserved PhD in running.   Whether you are starting out, have 50 years of running under your belt or somewhere in between - all of us have lessons learned that make us wiser and better runners.  

Today's theme is .... Overcoming Injuries. 

Spring fever brings spring running which can lead to springtime injuries.  Share your tips of how you overcome or rehab an injury.   Pass along the exercises, therapy, strengthening, stretches or pain relief of choice.   And don't forget to tell us about the mental piece - how do you keep it together when you have to stop running.   Tell us about resources like other websites, gear - anything that will make the injuries go away forever.

It's quick and easy!  Just post your name and the title/topic of your post in the first spot and the link to your post in the second spot.     And then read and enjoy!

Next Week's Theme is ... Hydration.   Let's talk water, H2O, aqua, and the other lifelines of hydration.  How much is enough?  Tell us what you do in your training runs and during races.   How do you hydrate when you are not running? Are you a water purist or do you like to mix it up with the other varieties on the market? What are your drinking habits for getting enough liquids, especially as we move into the warm months?  (I will leave it to your imaginations on how to interpret that question. :})

Click here for list of great posts on Preventing and Overcoming Injuries.

Running friends don’t let running friends get injured

A running friend...

… describes his accelerated switch to an advanced-level training program with considerably more weekly mileage and more intense speed work.

Duct_tape_2 …has hip pain.  She’s making it through her runs explaining it’s not getting any worse, but it’s also not getting better, and just wants to hang on until her race day.

…has just discovered the excitement of running and racing and can’t get enough.  He has a race picked out for most weekends, at a variety of distances, with a half marathon at the end of the season which is very important to him.

I’ve been in all these situations, plus many others like them, where a runner discusses going down a path with injury written all over it.  So what do you do?

Do you follow your gut and speak up?   Or do you let a running friend learn the hard way like most runners learn?

Do you resist explaining what conventional running wisdom would advise and risk dashing their hopes and dreams to the ground?

Do you risk coming across as a know-it-all?

Do you advise them to see a doc even if it means the doc will sideline them from running or even racing?  Do you suggest they reconsider their racing schedule?

How about this?  Each of these scenarios is with a BRF—a blogging running friend—who publicly discusses these situations on a post.  Do you wish them the best, offer alternative suggestions, or just remain silent? 

Do we help runners avoid the pain, disappointment, and setback in their running that we've experienced, or let them figure it out themselves?

I've been wondering if this week's focus on running injuries also deserves some discussion on if and how, as runners, we can proactively support each other, including speaking up and holding a tough conversation even if it means risking the running friendship.

You'd think running friends wouldn't let running friends get injured.  But do we?

We're looking forward to you sharing your experience and wisdom in tomorrow's Take It And Run Thursday.

Duct tape on mouth on Flickr by Meredith Farmer
Angel keeping a secret on Flickr by Apricotskye

I Know This Stuff....So Why Don't I Do It?

When the calendar flipped to the wonderful spring season last week, I was both excited and scared.  Excited because winter if officially over - even if the cold weather is still hanging around.  And scared because I have a bad habit of running myself right into an injury in the first four weeks of spring.

I get so excited about the chance to run in sunlight, in temps above 30' F, and of course Dscn2632 begin training for all my favorite races.   And about this time as I sit down with my training plan, the starved-for-running-crazed-side-me sets out a superhero training plan to get me "on track" for my spring and summer races.   If you are wondering, the starved for running crazed side of me has won 8 of the 12 years I have been running.  I have caused some kind of injury to myself 8 of the 12 years.  I get as crazy as a little kid - I just can't hold myself back. While the rational smart runner in me pleads and begs me to keep it reasonable and in check. Pretty stupid, eh?

So this year, the rational runner in me is trying to break free.  I read and reread Tom's post about injuries.  And in case the logical approach didn't work for me, I tried an emotional argument.  I went back and read my posts from last fall where I desparately tried for 92 days to get over a hip injury.   Surely, I wouldn't want to relive those dark days of no running.

And as added insurance, I read a bunch of articles related to running injury and prevention and checked out the growing resources in the Lounge Know How section (on Injuries).  Here are the tips they all seemed to share:

  • Watch the increase in total mileage in one week.  The common rule of no more than 10% works well as a general guideline.   I list this one first because it is the one I break most often.  Who knew that 8 miles to 25 miles is more than 10%?
  • Curb the urge with cross training.  To get the cardio exercise and lower your risk of injury, supplement your miles with biking, walking, elliptical, tennis, or whatever gets you excited.
  • Stretching and strengthening is good.  Really good.  Staying flexible is a great line of defense against injuries.  Being strong heads off muscle strain.  For stretches, check out this article from Family Doctor, Dr. Pribut's site, or this post from Tom.  Another regularly missed step in my spring running line up. Who has time for this other stuff when I am so busy running myself into an injury?
  • Check your shoe health.  Don't let a miserable run or injury remind you that it is time to trade in those winter kicks for a fresh, happy pair of running shoes.  Time for a little spring cleaning for all the running gear and time to refresh supplies, including socks, socks, hats and sunglasses.
  • If it hurts to run - stop running.  Running through injury only makes an injury worse.   I have rarely seen more running fix a running injury.  Skipping a run to heal or prevent further injury is better than skipping the rest of the season.  Spending more time strengthening and stretching is time better spent than pounding a pavement.
  • Get educated.  Read up on running injuries and know the early symptoms and how to prevent them.   Tom's post yesterday gave a couple great resources for some continuing education for your Running PhD.   Here is a link to a short article summarizing the Top 10 Running Injuries.
  • Manage your risks.  We are have weak spots in our running.  Take stock of your running risks and then put together a plan to manage them.   
  • It's all about the attitude.   If you need a break from running or need to rehab an injury - stay positive.

As I type this, I keep repeating these rules over and over to myself.  It is so much easier said than done.   With only 5 days of spring under my belt - I have already broken 5 of these rules. 

Universal Truths about Running Injuries

Some posts this week at Runners’ Lounge, including Take It and Run Thursday, are dedicated to running injuries.

Mss Injuries are a major blow to a runner.  We’re caught off guard and the timing is always rotten.  When injured, we tend to do dumb things—run through it, self-diagnose, ignore the cause, and ultimately delay our actual recovery.  I’ve lived a very fortunate runners’ life, but not free of injury.  Below are some universal truths I've discovered about running injuries.

We own responsibility for our active recovery

Not every injury is our fault.  But we do govern the details of our recovery. The minute we’re injured, the body starts healing, even though it doesn’t always feel that way.  We can accelerate the process with cross training, sleeping well, eating well, and fueling our minds with positive thoughts. 

We also need to stop being our own worst enemy by coming back too soon using the old excuse of “running a little just to see how it feels.”   A premature return to running is generally a double setback.  It’s like pulling up plants to check if the roots are still growing.  Yup, they're growing, but now the plant's natural progress is traumatized.  Couldn't I just leave the content plant—or my injury—to rest?

Beware of amateur diagnosis

We may refer to an injury by a common name, but it ain’t necessarily so.  A friend thought he was battling plantar fasciitis after another runner had convinced him he had it.  After asking a few questions, it was clear to me he didn’t have PF.  Instead he had Achilles tendonitis.  I assured him there is a difference, but that he should have it confirmed.  So the lesson here is one runner’s pain is not identical to another’s.  For example there is a bucket full of types of knee pain, and the sooner we find out what it is, then the cause, the sooner we can correct it.

May strength be your guide

Many injuries can be prevented or treated with more strength.  As runners, we are prone to building muscle imbalance.  The range of motion in running builds Everests out of some muscles and reduces other muscles to silly putty.  A brilliant PT once explained to me an injury related to four muscles in my calf.  The two inside muscles were the problem, but the outside two  muscles were not.  So the PT taught me to apply the “muscle buddy” system, by strengthening the healthy buddy muscles around the sore muscles.  After a few days of recruiting the healthy muscles to help out the inflamed muscles, the pain went away.  Since then I’ve learned to strengthen all muscles in the area of soreness.  Which leads me to the next truth.

Healthy_runners_handbook_2 We are smarter runners after an injury 

The most important stuff I know about muscles I’ve learned related to an injury.  In those runner crises I’ve learned to identify—and sometimes even pronounce—which muscles are upset with me, the difference between a pull, a strain, and soreness etc.  When I’m healthy, I run naively along ignoring what’s going on.  When I’m injured, a chart of the muscular-skeletal system is my friend.

When we're injured, we're often nasty.  Filled with frustration and impatience, we're miserable company.  Later, we're indebted with gratitude when we finally nail the cause and remedy to an injury.  Injuries humble us with so much to learn.  Great resourcea on the topic of injuries are the Healthy Runner's Handbook and The Competitive Runner’s Handbook.  Both discuss:

  • Questions to Ask When Injured
  • Warning Signs For Injury
  • Psychological Aspects of Injury—Denial, Anger, Depression, and Acceptance
  • Specific Treatments for Common Injuries—the questions to ask when Injured

Find and make maximum use of the BEST physical therapist

An awesome physical therapist is worth his/her weight in gold.  The key is finding the right one.  Ask around until you find a PT who is also a runner or who serves the bulk of runners in your community.

  • A good physical therapist is capable of diagnosing an injury and treating you on the spot and sending you on your way with exercises to recover. 
  • A great physical therapist will also educate you to understand your injury, its cause, and how to reduce the chances of it recurring.
  • The best physical therapist will do everything possible to keep you running while you’re rehabbing .

Reading about running injuries is like reading a lover's diary detailing a break up.  Still, we learn a lot from each others, and we believe this week’s focus on running injuries will be enlightening and helpful. 

Open Mic Friday: Laura Catherine

Open_mic_friday This week's Open Mic goes to Laura Catherine - Tom's daughter and number one fan!   She has been running on and off the last few years and is currently "on" and working toward a 5K at the end of May.

How long have you been running? 
I have been running off and on again for three years and I am happy to report that I am finally on again (again) and hope to stay that way. I have found that with a bit of patience and time, my body is getting used to running, thus making it much more enjoyable for me.  Also, now that I am in the habit making time to run, it is becoming a natural part of my schedule.  I am working on increasing mileage and frequency, but I try to run about two miles three or four times a week.  I know it is now much, but we all have to start somewhere, right?!

What's the most enjoyable/rewarding thing about running?
I recently wrote an entry for the Extraordinary Running Awards on this very topic.  Although it initially sounds very odd, the most rewarding thing about running for me is the momCherisheachdayent in each run when I want to give up.  I share a bit of my entry with you all to explain this rather strange statement: “Despite my inclination to stop, somehow I manage to continue putting one foot in front of the other.  Pretty soon again I am back in the swing of things, still running and feeling just fine.  I think back on that moment when I wanted to stop and laugh at myself.  Why would I want to stop when I am feeling this great?  Why would I want to stop when I know I can keep going?  Why would I want to be anywhere but here running right now?  Well, the answer is simple - I would not.  Without those moments when I want to give up, I would never get to enjoy the moments where I feel I could run forever.  As much as I hate running during those few moments of my run, they are the ones that keep me going.  These moments mean that I started running, that I am still running and that I will keep running.”

What is your running goal for this year?
After years of enthusiastically watching my father finish the annual Dam to Dam 20K in Des Moines, Ia, this year I will also be participating in the exciting event!  I hope to complete my first 5K on that day!

In a recent open mic with your dad, he expressed the hope to train/run a marathon with each of his children.  Do you see a marathon in the near future for you?
I definitely see a marathon in my future, the question is just a matter of when.  I have no doubt that one day my dad and I will run the great Chicago Marathon side by side.  Optimistically, I say that it will be within the next 3 years!

Your dad has called you his number 1 fan.   What is your advice for family/friends to Laura give good support to their runners?
My biggest piece of advice is just be there.  That little phrase has several different meanings and they are all important to runners.  Being there means being there to ask how a run was, listen to the answer and show some interest in the answer.  Being there can mean participating as a spectator in a race day.  Spectating is so much more than being at the finish line.  It means waving signs (see picture of my roommate, María and I at this year´s Chicago marathon), making noise and cheering as your runner passes by and offering words of encouragement during the days leading up to the race.  Spectating means talking with other spectators and sharing the joy of your runners’ accomplishments with them.  Being there for a runner on a race day means giving your runner a big sweaty hug and kiss after they make it out of the finishers corral.   It sounds a bit gross, I know – but it is definitely a big sign that you are there for your runner. 

Tell us about the Chicago Marathon as a spectator.  What is your favorite part?
Oh wow – I am not sure if words can describe the sheer excitement of that wonderful October day on which takes place the Chicago Marathon!  The wonder of the whole day starts with the drive downtown and you see the streets absolutely littered with runners, already jazzed up as they anticipate the next few hours on the streets of Chicago. As my friends and I wait for the race to start on the Randolph Street Bridge, the energy of the spectators is electric.  People carry signs with encouraging messages and inside jokes, have noisemakers ready to cause a commotion and are prepared for a great day! I always get very emotional as I watch the wheelchair athletes start the race, followed by the elite runners and then everyone else!  During the 20 minutes after the gun goes off, all you can see in front of you are runners!!!!!  Thousands and thousands of runners!!!!   Everyone is waving and screaming for every person down there brave enough to that first step over the start line.   I always frantically look for my dad and upon finding him, I wave and tell him that I love him!  Man, we are all so pumped to be there!   After I see him that first time, my friend and I usually take off to maneuver the course and attempt to see my dad at least 3 or 4 other times (if not more!)  It is always such a joy to see him out on the course.  He will usually either tell me how he is doing or that he loves me, sometimes both!  Another favorite part of spectating is cheering for people who I do not even know.  A lot of people will have their name printed somewhere on their shirt and so we cheer for them, too!  My roommate and I also enjoy cheering for the people from Spanish speaking countries in Spanish (which we both speak fluently).  From wandering through Chicago’s wide array of ethnic neighborhoods on race day to sharing in the excitement with my dad and thousands of his running peers, I adore the Chicago Marathon!

Take It and Run Thursday: Running Communities

Take_it_and_run_thursday Welcome to Take It and Run Thursday!

It's our way to bring together the knowledge of all of us ordinary runners.  It's the virtual equivalent to putting our virtual heads together.  Even though many of us aren't elite athletes, coaches or authors, it doesn't mean that we haven't earned a well deserved PhD in running.   Whether you are starting out, have 50 years of running under your belt or somewhere in between - all of us have lessons learned that make us wiser and better runners.  

Today's theme is .... Running Communities. 

With a new running season moving into high gear for training and races, tell us about your running community.  It could be a feature about your running club, your informal running group of friends and family, your online running supporters/group.  However you define your running community - give them a shout out and tell the Lounge what cool things are going on.      

It's quick and easy!  Just post your name and the title/topic of your post in the first spot and the link to your post in the second spot.     And then read and enjoy!

Next Week's Theme is ... Overcoming Injuries.   Spring fever brings spring running which can lead to springtime injuries.  Share your tips of how you overcome or rehab an injury.   Pass along the exercises, therapy, strengthening, stretches or pain relief of choice.   And don't forget to tell us about the mental piece - how do you keep it together when you have to stop running.   Tell us about resources like other websites, gear - anything that will make the injuries go away forever.

Click here for a list of great posts on the topic of Running Communities.

Three cheers For You!

I really love reading stories about how running changed someone's life.  They are inspirational and uplifting.  And believable.  Any runner can see through their own experience how running has changed their own life.   

Running has changed my life.   And then my life touched the running community.   And now the running community has changed my running.   

A year ago when Tom and I started dreaming out loud of a community for runners I was excited but very hesitant.  I LOVE talking about running.  I thoroughly enjoy a conversation with a runner - but as you know - I am not very good at the whole running thing.   A year ago when we would dream about a hosting a running community, I was completely perplexed at what I could contribute.  I am slow, I have no formal running education, I am slow, I have never been a coach, I am slow, I never competed in high school, college or professionally, and did I mention that I was slow?   So what could I give to a bunch of runners - comic relief?

But something very interesting happened over the spring and summer.   I met all of you and began to realize that runners aren't made up of just the strong and fast.  Our community is made up of all shapes, speeds, interests, and ages.   And the more I read and talked with BRF, the more I realized that my type of running IS an acceptable type of running.  There are millions of runners just like me - trying to fit running into an already busy life, who do it for all different reasons, and who take the time to keep other runners going.   I belong with this group!

And with that realization, my attitude of my own running changed forever.   I relaxed my own crazy rules of what a real runner is.  I ran more often just to enjoy.  I slowed down (unbelievable to me to that I could run even slower).  I spent more time talking with other runners to let them know what "real runners" are made of.  I learned to share what I learned along the way - because we all end up in the same traps.  And I learned to appreciate my running accomplishments versus always hoping I could do something more. 

And then as an added bonus, after 12 years of running mostly by myself, I have found many new running partners.   Just when I thought running couldn't get much more enjoyable - I found Art and Nancy (who indulge me most often).   As you know, the miles go by much more quickly with a friend.    And I forever grateful of the borrowed inspiration from Art on Sunday and Nancy's strong stomach after seeing me in a swimsuit on Tuesday.   

I am very fortunate to have a large running community in the likes of all of you and my small town group of my running friends at home.   

Thanks for keeping me going and in the right direction!

We are looking forward to your posts tomorrow on your running clubs, running groups, races, and running communities (virtual or home town) as part of Take It and Run Thursday.

We Came, We TRI'd, We Rocked!

We did it!  Nancy and I finished the St Jude/Fitness World West Triathlon!

Wait - that is a lie.  We didn't finish.   We kicked some butt, took some names and Dscn2779 crossed the line hollering like kids!   Yeah, that's more like it!   We finished like rock stars!

Nancy is a natural at triathlons (now, don't be shaking your head Nancy!), with just a few swims under her belt in the last few years, and not much biking - she just cruised through each part.  And then she pulled off a 3 mile run in 30:50!  What the heck?!?!   I am pretty sure she has been holding out on us all these months with her running.

Dscn2777 This triathlon was an indoor race of a 1/4 mile swim, 10 mile bike (which increased 2 resistance every 2 miles - yikes!), and a 3 mile run on a track (33 laps).   This was my first indoor triathlon and I actually liked it.  It was nice to face off before the swim and not have visions of drowning in the lake and swimming through duck poo.   It was also nice not to worry about dumping the bike on a turnaround or the dreaded flat tire.   

My favorite part of the entire race was lap 23 of 33 of the run.   We are skimming along the surface and just heard that we were right at a 10:15 pace per mile - which is quite good for us, especially coming off of a swim and bike.    There was a guy on the track ahead of us and as we passed him, Nancy says to him, "We may not look like we rock.  But we rock."    His response?   "Yes you do."

Nuff said.  You heard the man.  We ROCK!

Thanks Nancy for a great afternoon.   Triathlons beat work every time.  :}

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