Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Winter running tips

Today I thought I would talk about one of my least favorite things: winter!!  I've been in denial about it, but the temperatures are getting increasingly colder.  So, I've been thinking about how I will deal with it and here are some of the tips that I've come up with.

1.  Make sure you are visible.  Winter means that it gets dark earlier.  Many of us have to run early in the morning or in the evening after work.  Try to wear light colored clothing, safety yellow or neon green shows up really well. A neon safety vest is also a good option.  Most running clothing has reflective patches on it or you can purchase reflective tape to add to your shoes, clothing, etc.  And carry a light with you.  This makes you more visible to traffic and helps you see where you're going to help prevent injuries.  A headlamp with either a strap or that clips on the bill of a hat works well.  There are many good options available from your local or online sporting goods store. 

2.  Pay close attention to weather forecasts/conditions.  Dress like it is 20 degrees warmer and dress in multiple layers.  Avoid cotton fabric because it retains moisture and keeps you wet which will ultimately make you feel colder.  Nylon helps to keep you dry.  It wicks away moisture and extra heat which helps prevent overheating and chilling. 

3.  Cover your hands and feet to prevent frost bite.  Wear gloves or mittens and warm socks.  Cover your head.  40% of body temp is lost through the head; wearing a hat will help prevent heat loss.  Also, consider covering your face with a mask or scarf if it is really cold.

4.  Most importantly: be safe and have FUN!! 

So, that's what I've figured out so far about running in the cold.  Please feel free to add any tips that have worked for you in the past.  I'm not really looking forward to winter running.  I know it will take some getting used to.  But I started running in the hottest summer on record ever in Oklahoma and handled it, so I'm sure I will eventually get used to it!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Birth of a runner, from 5k to half marathon in 6 months!!

I have always been intrigued by runners. Many of my friends ran and I lived vicariously through them. I always thought I would like to try to run a 5k at some point in my life.  I even dabbled with running from time to time. Well, it was actually more like walking, but I called it "running" because I run a few feet then walk again. I certainly never considered myself a runner like my cool friends. Then, in late April 2011, my friend Gayle asked me to do a 10k with her.  I knew I couldn't run for 6 miles but I figured I could at least walk that far.  So, I did!  I finished that first 10k in 1 hour and 23 minutes.  It wasn't a very fast time, but something happened on that day. I finished!!  I started something that was very complicated and I completed it.  I had something that I could be proud about!!  It was an amazing feeling!!  And I was forever hooked!!  I ran a 5k with my friend a couple of weeks later.  I was enjoying myself but I knew I needed to learn about form, breathing, pacing, etc so  I went out, bought new running shoes and clothes and signed up for No Boundaries, the 5k training program at Fleet Feet Sports Tulsa.  I met the most amazing people in my life and we started training for a 5k.  Our goal race was the Bedlam run at the end of July.  We trained 2 nights each week during the hottest summer on record ever in Oklahoma.  I ran a few more 5k's during our training.  We ran our goal race on July 30th.  It was at 7:30 in the morning but still very hot and humid.  I didn't have an outstanding finish time but again, I had the satisfaction of finishing.

I knew I wanted to keep running and keep learning so I signed up for another training program at Fleet Feet Sports Tulsa.  This one was called Pathways and our goal was to run a 10k, well actually we ran a quarter marathon 6.55 miles.  I met another amazing group of people and we began training.  It was still hot when we started so the increased distances were challenging but we had a great coach who encouraged us to keep going.  We ran our goal race on October 15 and I had an outstanding run!!  But, I couldn't stop there, so I kept going.  Now, my goal was the Tulsa Run, a 15k or 9.3 miles.  The increased distances were even more challenging.  I started having pain in my knees.  My time @ the Tulsa Run wasn't quite as good as I had hoped, but I had the opportunity to run with my friends and that was awesome.  I was hoping that I would be able to build up to the Route 66 half marathon 2 weeks after the Tulsa Run, but I wasn't sure.  I've never been a very confident person and I was starting to doubt myself.  I tried a 10 mile training run with one of the Fleet Feet Sports half marathon training groups and was able to do the distance so I went ahead and signed up for the half marathon.

The weekend of the race finally arrived.  I made all the necessary preparations.  I downloaded plenty of music, charged my ipod, pinned my bib on and laid out my race clothes/gear in advance.  I made sure I was drinking plenty of fluids all week and had a good, high carbohydrate meal the night before.  I tried to get a good night sleep but that was difficult due to all the butterflies.  I woke up at 0400 to check the weather.  It was colder than I was hoping it would be.....in the 30's and not likely to get much warmer so that meant a wardrobe change.  I ate my usual pre-run breakfast of toast, peanut butter, honey and banana and drank more water.  We left home before 6am to get to Tulsa in time to find a parking place and walk to the start line.  I met my friends from Fleet Feet prior to the race.  Many of them were in the same corral I was in.  We made our final stop at the porta-potty then proceeded to the starting corral.  We waited in the cold for what seemed like an eternity but actually was closer to 30 minutes. Then, we were off!!  I ran with my friends Lynn and Kenna for about a mile then I saw my friends Jessica and Stephanie from my Pathways training group.  They were running run/walk intervals.  I ran with them for about 4 miles.  I was feeling pretty good both physically and with my pace at this point, so I started to run my own race.  I did pretty well until about mile 8 when I started to have some pain in my left foot.  I kept going until about mile 10.5 and decided to walk for a couple of miles.  My foot was hurting and I wanted to save what I had left in it for the finish.  I walked until about mile 12.5 then I saw some more of my friends from Fleet Feet and ran to the finish with them.  I finished my first half marathon in 2:43, 15 minutes faster than I had predicted!!  I was pretty pleased with myself!!  My biggest fear was having to run by myself.  I was essentially on my own after I left my friends, but every so often, I would see someone that I knew from Fleet Feet so I never felt like I was truly alone.

I enjoyed my experience and look forward to doing the next one!!  I have made some of the most amazing forever friends and I've learned something about myself.  Over the course of my training, I've learned that I am strong and can do anything that I set my mind to.  I learned through running to look for the silver lining and that no one is a loser.  And most importantly, I've learned to have confidence in myself!! To date, I have run 14 races including: 8-5k's, 1-5k obstacle race, 1-6.55 mile run, 2-4 mile runs, a 15k and the half marathon!!  I have many more miles to run and I am now proud to call myself a runner!!  Running changes lives; Running changes everything!!