Time to Run

Announcing The WRIGHTSOCK Challenge

What would you give up to enjoy new running socks? 

How about your current favorite socks?

WRIGHTSOCK Challenge Widget Today Runners' Lounge is kicking off The WRIGHTSOCK Challenge, which invited runners to try WRIGHTSOCKs in place of their current favorites during August.

Why WRIGHTSOCKs?  This brand provides a unique double-layer construction that delivers—make that guarantees—no blisters.  In addition to moisture management and temperature regulation, WRIGHTSOCK uses two layers to manage the friction that is normally transferred to the skin. The result... skin shear is eliminated.  WRIGHTSOCK also makes single-layer sock with the same guarantee.

What’s ahead for these Challenge participants?  Will it truely be blister free?  Or withdrawal and hallucinations of socks from their running past?  Or a new level of comfort and support for miles to come?  Who knows.  We’re looking forward learning first-hand from these runners’ experiences wearing WRIGHTSOCKS on runs of different distances, intensity, different weather and running conditions, and even races. 

You can meet the Challengers in their introduction forum and learn more about their sock experiences and what they're looking for from their new WRIGHTSOCKs.  Throughout the month of August, we'll be bringing to you their reactions as they hit the roads and test their socks under every condition.

Last question:  What has 250 feet and smiles? 

Answer: The 125+ runners who have already earned a free pair of WRIGHTSOCKs.  If you’re not among them, it’s not too late. Every Lounger who leaves a comment or question related to running socks in this forum will be eligible for free socks, courtesy of our partners at WRIGHTSOCK, while the supply lasts.

After you leave your comment below, then email your Runners' Lounge Profile Name, first and last name, mailing address, gender, and shoe size to: info@runnerslounge.com


This week in the Lounge, we are talking about finding time to run and finding ways to balance running with the rest of life's demands. Like many of you, I am a mom, an employee, a sister, a friend, a wife, a soccer coach (albeit not a good one), a mentor, a mentee, a volunteer, a cheerleader at my kids events, a Lounger, a fill in teacher for my kids homework, a blogger, a rehab patient (for my knee), a pet owner, a maid and cook, a home owner.....and a runner.

This spring has been one of the busiest springs we have had yet.  Finding time to run has been a struggle.  I spend a great deal of time staring at the family calendar and in negotiations with my husband to find a free block of time to run.   If you follow along in my personal blog, Once Upon A Run, you know it is a common theme at the end of most posts that I am off to stare at the calendar to find time to fit in the next run.  

And while I don't wish my current schedule on anyone, I am somewhat thankful that this perfect storm of events happened.  Why?  Because it tested my will and desire to run.   It also tested my personal philosophy of what is important in my life.   And it also retaught me a lesson about balance - yet again.  Here is what I learned:

Balance isn't about having it all or getting it all done.  That would be perfection.  There is not enough time or money available to achieve perfection in my life.

Balance is about getting just enough of things that matter most and letting go of the things that don't.  Balance is wisdom and disciplined execution of your life's most precious priorities.

And like physical balance, it requires work and lots of practice before it happens.

To get ready for my half marathon this April, I made the decision that the only way to get in long runs was to do it at 3:00 on Fridays.  No matter what.  And at 2:30 each Friday, I waged a mental battle with myself with all the things I should do besides run (work, kids activities, spending time with my family, work, grocery shopping, work, work, work...).    It took all my strength and an incredible amount of discipline to put aside my other more pressing responsibilities and stay true to my personal philosophy.  It meant that some things went undone.  Or I wasn't as prepared as I hoped.  Or my husband had to pick up even more of the load at home.  Or things at home didn't get done (they way I like).

During the act of balancing running with life, it felt hard and I constantly wondered if I was making the right decisions.   But now that the half marathon is successfully behind me, it is easier to see the lessons I mentioned above.  

Balance is wisdom and disclipined execution of your life's most precious priorities.   Balance isn't doing it all. 

Meeting an Impressive Blogging Running Friend

Razzdoodle_2 The running trails of West Des Moines welcomed Matt or Razzdoodle on Sunday morning. 

Matt was in town from Omaha for a family visit and golf tournament, so we got together for a 12 miler Sunday morning.   We’d never met before, but knowing each other through our blogs and Runners’ Lounge profiles had us running and chatting instantly.  We talked about his current running, his blog Running Off At the Mind speed work, compared running in our communities, and generally how runners form such a tight-knit, supportive community.

So how long does it take experienced runners to make a textbook mistake on a run together?  Just a few miles.  For some reason we passed up drinking at a fountain at the four mile point along the trail.  Well by mid point we were regretting it and for the later miles, we were dragging.

Matt’s a heck of a guy.  A husband, dad, teacher and coach, recently he completed his first half marathon.  Now he’s sorting through his decision of whether to try the full marathon distance this fall at the Des Moines MarathonIt’s not a matter of if to run a marathon, but when, based on his schedule and training.  Besides his teaching career, he operates his own business too.  I chucked when he explained that his family is growing used to getting him running gear for birthday and Christmas gifts.  He’s lean, has an easy stride, and right on schedule with his long runs if he decides to go for it.

Leave it to two men to forget cameras to capture the run together.  Not much to see except two sweaty guys stretching, dripping, and putting away a few bottles of Gatorade after our run.

Later in the afternoon, while I was painting in the cool of my basement, Matt was shooting 18 holes of golf with his family in temps with a heat index of 112 degrees. 

Matt, if you can run 12 miles on a hellish August morning, with no water, tolerate me, and then play golf for three hours in raging heat, you can run a marathon!

Thanks for a great run, Razz!

More Sleep = Better Running & Fewer Midnight Cravings

A strange thing happened to me recently…I got a full night’s sleep!

Better_sleep_4 For months now I’ve been staying up later and later.  The reasons aren’t important, but the outcome has been noticeable.  Burning the midnight oil has left me chronically tired and most days without the energy level to run as consistently as I’m used to.

Another outcome of my late nights and less sleep is weight gain.
It’s been puzzling and frustrating how I haven’t been able to shed the pounds.  It wasn’t until talking with a friend, a non-runner who has 70+ pounds to lose, that I put it all together.  The friend is working closely with his doctor who says step number one in successful weight loss—even before calorie counting and smaller serving portions—is getting adequate sleep.  He cites two reasons:

  • Without enough sleep the brain will not let the body devote the required energy to exercise, so the desire and the capability to increase calorie burn is just not there.
  • Inadequate sleep produces poor judgment around eating.  The brain just doesn’t do its job managing our cravings, including informing the stomach we’re not hungry.

This is me to a T

When I’m well rested, I can resist calorie-stoked temptations.   When I’m up late, the refrigerator and the cupboard doors swing open magically and beckon me to graze on snacks and leftovers.  I cave in like Cheetos are a god.  So for nearly every night in the last six months I’ve eaten a fourth meal, and generally with no nutritional value and empty calories.

For those who need some scientific basis for all this, here’s the scoop.  Inadequate sleep:

  • interferes with the body's ability to metabolize carbohydrates and causes high blood levels of glucose, which leads to higher insulin levels and greater body-fat storage.
  • drives down leptin levels, which causes the body to crave carbohydrates.
  • reduces levels of growth hormone, a protein that helps regulate the body's proportions of fat and muscle.

So my experiment these days—I’m always tweaking something with my running—is start an early-to-bed habit.  It’s easy to say, but tough to turn in when I still have favorite blogs to read and posts to write, which I tend to enjoy later in the evening. 

There's no shortage of material and research connecting sleep with weight loss, and here's an interesting piece on how to sleep like an Olympian.

But in the short time I’m getting to bed earlier, I’m finding that energy to run and no more piling on hundreds of calories at midnight!

Better Sleep sign on Flickr by Sodapopper

Thanks Nancy!

9onthe9thlogo787536 Yesterday, I was a bit grumbly and feeling somewhat sorry for myself.  Earlier in the week, I had a great plan to take Friday off, get my 7-9 miles in for the Virtual 9 on the 9th and then still have time to get some errands and neglected house chores crossed off my list.   But instead of that great plan, I found myself Friday morning elbow and knee deep into regular work stuff.  Work that was a wonderful yet required a horrible amount of high level of brain power that droned on for 5 hours.   5 hours of hard work on my day off!  There is nothing worse than that.  So by noon on Friday, I was sad.  I could feel my run slipping through my fingers as each minute on the clock ticked away.  This weekend has no time or opportunity for a run - I was going to be out of luck.

Betsy Feeling discouraged, I took a quick "lunch break" of feeling-sorry-for-meBobggg-food of Pringle crumbs, Doritoes and Diet Coke, I went back and read Bob's interview where he talked about the worst thing about running was missing a run.  "Amen!", I yelled.   Then I read back a bit further to Betsy's post last Friday on making time for yourself.  "Humpf."  I thought - she's so right.

And then I sent Nancy an email asking if she was going to get in her 9 miles.  I mean, she's been sick, just started running again this week, and she is just as busy.   Here was her reply, "I did 9 today.  Very slowly but covered the miles while watching a movie."   A great feeling of awe and inspiration washed over me.   She did 9 miles on a treadmill.   What the hell is my problem!

Nancy I sent her a quick note back telling her how she was my hero, shut down my computer and phone, grabbed my iPod and hit the door.   It did about 8 miles - which is about what I wanted to do.   It wasn't my best run, but by far had been my best decision that week.   The feeling of getting my priorities right.  The joy of getting that run complete in my only open window, and of course, just the ability of being able to run those miles comfortably gave me a happy feeling that carried me through the rest of my day.   

When I got home from the run, I walked around our trails to finish the last mile.   From a time perspective, that was probably my slowest, most drawn out run - but it was so lovely.  Hero_medal

So, Nancy, you may not always bring us the best weather for these races, but I am so glad you give us a reason and inspiration.

Thanks Nancy!  You are my SUPER hero!

In Praise of Running Plans

Tuesday posts are focused on back-to-the-basics of running for beginners and experienced runners.

People with a plan do better than people without a plan

I’ve fumbled through January, getting in my runs here and there, missing or falling short on more runs than I care to admit.  Looking ahead, I’m reminded of the usefulness of creating and following a plan for my running. 

Plan_2 Whether we call it a running plan or training plan doesn’t matter.  Makes no difference whether we design the plan ourselves or take it straight from a web site or book. The point is a good plan is worth its weight in gold—or Gu packs, or doughnuts, or pizza.

During marathon season, I map out a 16–18 week schedule detailing my training to include the right blend of easy, speed, pace, and long runs.   When not training for a race, I usually get good results planning 3–4 weeks out, even if most of my running is low mileage and slow.  The point is not having it all right and perfect with the certainty of a TV evangelist.  Instead, a plan gives me a road map to where I’m heading.

I’ve learned the hard way about being a slave to a running plan.  Following a running plan too rigidly feels more like boot camp and can wind up getting us injured, disinterested, and without enjoyment and satisfaction.  Instead, I’ve identified a few advantages to using a plan to guide our running.

A plan motivates me to take action.  Even when the conditions are imperfect, my plan cajoles me to get out there and accomplish something for me.

A plan shows possibilities
.  Reviewing a plan reveals when to ramp up, back down, rest, peak, cross train, taper, race, and not race.  A plan captures my best applied thinking about what I know about running and training well.

Plan_book It’s an agreement with yourself. Training plans aren’t binding.  But a good running plan reminds me I have this partnership with myself and helps me hold up my end of the deal.

A plan is like a running partner but without the sweaty smell.  It increases the likelihood I’ll get in the running that I planned when I planned it.  A good running plan helps us prioritize and make the best use of our limited time.

Takes the mystery out of day-to-day planning.  Without a plan, I’m scratching my head each day wondering what to run.  This by-the-seat-of-my-pants planning and wondering often leads to repeating the same-old-same-old or even procrastinating my running.

Gives me purpose and milestones. With a running plan, the stage is set to accomplishing something.   Without a plan running my goals are good intentions wrapped in vapor.  I find my running plan sets the stage for improvement.   It’s how the good stuff builds on the good stuff.

Finally, a running plan gives me something to cheat on.
  You can’t play hooky from school on Saturday.  Similarly, not running when there isn’t a planned run isn’t nearly as fun.  The greatest escapes start with a plan.

Don’t get me wrong, I love spontaneity in running.  Just like a friend who drops by unexpected or a weekend afternoon that turns into a nap, some of the best runs are not planned.  Those are gems, but we can’t count on them.  So a running plan gives us more predictability about our running.

There have been plenty of stretches in my running life when I’ve wandered care free and without a plan for my running.  Those have a time and a place too.  But consistently and predictably I’ve learned the timeless lesson...

...that those who have a plan do better than those who don’t have a plan.

Plan on Flickr by PibeFision

Planning book on Flicker by wsox23 

50 ways to find time to run (well, almost)

Am I the only one still having a hard time finding time to run?  The holidays are over...way Run_sign over.  No excuse there anymore.  We have pushed past the really cold, really dark part of winter.  Can't count that as a reason.   But work and home is very busy.  Very, very busy.  Over-the-top crazy.   It always seem very difficult to squeeze one in.

But, still, come on Amy, enough.   The run isn't asking for hours a day.  30 minutes would do just fine.   Out of the 1440 minutes in a day, the run just needs 30 of them, which is a measly 2% sliver of your entire time for each God given day.   Certainly you can these few minutes.

As I was pondering the math and my dilemna, Paul Simon came on the radio singing "50 ways to leave your lover..."    And it that moment, I found myself singing along to one of my most favorite songs in the world, but with a renewed mission.   To leave the excuses and to find 50 ways to find time to run.

You know, good ole Paul had some of them already figured out with a few of the original lyrics with the classic Just slip out the back Jack , Make a new plan Stan, and Just get yourself free.

I think I will count them as three of my fifty ways, and here are a few I came up with:

4.   Cut back on a few of those long hour + meetings and take the time saved to run on the way home from work.

5.  Schedule, schedule, schedule.   A bit more mamba action in front of the family calendar to find the chunk of time.  It isn't going to happen if it isn't scheduled.

6.  Break down and get the babysitter.  Time to bring in the reinforcements again.  Babysitters aren't just for the few times we head out each year, they are just as useful in watching kids to go for a much needed run.

7.  The treadmill.   It's right there in the basement.  Safe, well lit, warm and always ready.  Time to break down and use it some more.  Only 5 weeks until the time change.

8.  Wake up call.  Set the alarm 32 minutes early, have your clothes ready and run downstairs to get in your run.   You will appreciate they day so much more if you have one under your belt.   And what is 32 minutes - its not going to be the difference of a good and bad nights sleep for you.

End of the day wrap up.  What a better way to have some time to pull together your thoughts than a nice gentle run at the end of the day.  Yes, I know you are tired and just want to sit, but a run can be more relaxing than couch time.

10.  Give yourself a reason.  Instead of treating it as a luxurious use of time, make it a requirement.   Call a few friends and commit to a time you will meet them to run and then follow through.

11.  Adjust, go with the flow.  On the days when 30 minutes won't work, then try for 25, 20, 15, heck - even 10.   It is better to get out and move a little than none at all. 

12.  Lunchtime.   With an hour lunch, you could do 30 minutes run and still be cleaned up and back at it in an hour.  Yes, it may be a pain - but which is more painful?

13.  Really desparate solution.  If you have a shorter lunch or find yourself with 30 minutes free at work, walk and work.   Do a walking meeting or a walk at lunch.  Just keep moving.

14.  Find a few more races.  Outside of the races you normally do, add a few more on your calendar.  Not only will you be more commited to train and stick to your runs, but on race day, you know you will show up and get some miles in. 

15.  Pay yourself to run.  Give yourself a dollar for every mile you run either literally or on paper.  Save the dollars for some running gadget or gear thing that you are really looking forward to.

Ok...by the time I got to 15 in my head, the song was over.   And so was my list.  Anyone have any really good ways they find time and motivate themselves to make time to run?

Photo on Flickr by Kris Kros

Ahhh, the Gift of a Book About Running

I’m a running book junkie. 

Dozens of volumes on my shelves have enriched my running.   So when Amy started talking Holiday Wish Lists for runners, I thought I’d throw out some titles that would be great literary partners for anyone to more fully enjoy and improve their running.
The Competitive Runner’s Handbook.
  Like a colossal how-to reference a plumber would keep in his truck, this is a true users manual.  It covers everything for the beginner to the advanced, every distance, including great training programs, racing techniques, injuries, nutrition—it’s got it all.  If you want to better talk about running, this one is a must.

How Running Changed My Life.  Hand me a tissue.  We'd expect and love to hear these stories on Oprah. Powerful short stories by ordinary runners that speak from their hearts about how running has and continues to transform them.  It's regularly on my night stand.

Running_within_2 Running Within: A Guide to Mastering the Body-Mind-Spirit Connection For Ultimate Training and Racing.   The Joy of Sex of running.  A great guide to the stuff not found in most running books—relaxing, being courageous, dealing with fatigue, dealing with your mental game.

Run Right Now: What a Half-Century on the Run has Taught.   If you don't have a running mentor, at least own this book. Compiled with wisdom that will save you from making unnecessary mistakes.  You’ll want to try several dozen new approaches to increase your enjoyment and success with your running.

The Cutting-Edge Runner.   Iran could probably build a nuclear bomb—or a better one—with this book.   Written with some of the latest science in mind for improving running performance by one of the best running writers.  I don’t want my competitors reading this book.

Complete Book of Beginning Running.  Remember the Betty Crocker Cookbook your mom had in her kitchen?  This is it for running.  Not just for beginners. Either you already know everything in this book or you better own it.  Thorough, inspirational, and will help you get the most out of running.  You would want your beginning running friends to own this.

Daniel’s Running Formula
Like a money guru who will help you take $1,000 and predictably invest it to earn $100,000.   Contains arguably the best explanations of the principles of training, types of workouts, a systematic guide to training at the right intensity, and how to put together your own training plans.  I wouldn't attempt a serious running goal or start a new competitive season without it.

Runner's World Complete Book of Women's Running.
  Yup. I do own this book, although it's always out on loan.

What other titles do you suggest Amy and I add to our Wish Lists?

A Runner On The Edge

My body and mind operate normally as long as I don't go more than 3 days between runs.  No_running_sign Last week, I hit my internal "red line" and then pushed the needle past the safe zone - I racked up 5 days with not a single step. This was a very tricky situation.  My runs serve as a release valve to balance the demands of everyday life.  They keep the "junk in my trunk" from builidng up to dangerous levels.  The junk is made up of a little stress, a little clutter of many demands/priorities, and too little time of dreaming/thinking about nothing.  Without my runs, this junk becomes almost toxic and takes a toll on my body and mind. 

By Day 4, I couldn't think straight and certainly wasn't up to do the work that I am paid to do.  My brain was not firing on all pistons.  Just like in Tom mentioned in his post, I needed some running time to get some work done. Between runs, it feels like a bolt in my brain slowly unscrews itself until my neurons are no longer in contact.  I end up with a screw loose.  Everything feels harder and takes longer. My coworkers see that there are no lights on and speak in soft, reassuring tones, use small words, with lots of gestures.  I stare back like an untrained monkey.  If feel a little like Bill's post about being possessed during his taper.

Oh yeah and I am GCRAMBY.  That is a mix between grumpy and crabby - just down right unpleasant.  Poor Tom foolishly tried to enter my office to ask a reasonable question and was met by a beastlike creature resembling me.  I did fire a warning shot to let him and anyone in ear shot now that I am a runner on the edge.   My tiny patience reserve was bone dry, my emphathy to others' problems were exhausted. My gas tank was in serious need of a refill and there isn't a run anywhere in sight.  Marcy and Nancy - I don't know how you you manage without getting in the runs you want.  Rob - you are my hero for getting through weeks and staying positive with your cross training.

On Day 5, a normal trip to the grocery store took 6 hours.  I was dumber than a box of rocks and spent 3 hours wondering through the same aisles because I can't remember why I am there and another 3 hours picking out ingredients for dinner- Do Doritoes and Little Debbie CakeSomeone_is_running_signs fulfill the food pyramid?  All the while becoming GCRAMBY-ier.  Small children moved to the side and hid behind their moms.  Other parents point and whispered and moved swiftly out of my way.   Other runners passed me and silently nod in sympathy, there is nothing sadder than a fellow runner who can't find time to run.

Finally, at the end of Day 6, I couldn't take it anymore.  Those work projects that really needed to be done before I went home - shelved.   The errands for home that should have been done a few days ago - on hold.  At 4:05, I hit the trails for a 4 mile run which is my most theraputic distance.  It's just long enough to get the "junk out of my trunk", return order to my thoughts, and feel like I can breath deep again.  My body was in complete control from the first step.  My mind came along for the ride and was so relieved to be out there wandering aimlessly.  When I was done, it was like someone hit the "re-set" button.   

Whew.  I feel back to normal.  Thank goodness I can run!

Photo of sign by jefka

Photo of sign by zephyrbunny


I traded the kids for a handful of magic beans

Ok, not really.  But I do have 3 days without kids!  Our schedules reached a new level of insanity.  No amount of calendar mamba-ing would dance me out of this mess. My parents agreed to take the kids for a few days to get over this hump.  When I met them for the drop off, there was my mom, with a bag of green beans and peas fresh out of the garden (and a smile), saying "trade ya'".    Best deal I made in a while!

I love my kids dearly - but am looking forward to a few days where I just Dscn1214need to keep track of me.  I can work when I need to and can rrrrruuuuuunnnnnn anytime I want!  Yippee!

When I got home from work and class last night, there waiting in my garage was my bike.  All aired up, cleaned up and ready to ride - thanks honey!   It was like seeing an old friend.  Me and bike (his name is Tiger) are going to have an intense, yet short affair over the next few days and log some miles.    I can't wait!

Now, if I could just trade the "magic beans" for some cool weather and a few hundred percent lower humidity...

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