Monday, March 21, 2011

Runner's Trots

It's a well know secret within the runner's world, which I never even closely considered as a hindrance to long distance running until I became victim to it several times myself.  When you think about what you're doing to your body for one, two, three or four plus hours during these races, it makes it understandable. Approaching mile 5 or 6, you suddenly become acutely aware of your stomach, more specifically, your clenched colon. Welcome to the world of Runner's Trots.

To spare you the time of Google-ing the definition of this phrase and to make it sound nicer than it actually is, let's just say that this is when your stomach is dying to expel your last meal. The violent up-and-down motion rocking your digestive organs for an extended period of time, catalyzes the natural process. It can range from mild cramping to the 'oh-my-god-i-need-a-toilet-now!' It brings me back to the similar exercise of ... dancing. I'm sure that my friend Olga can count on two hands, the number of times we've been racing home from a night of dancing our feet off to reach the medicine cabinet for Katie's dose of Pepto Bismal.  The same jarring, up-and-down motion would upset my stomach. Ah, good times, eh, Olga? Maybe I'm alone in this in the dancing world, but I'm definitely not alone in the runner's world. My comrades can be found under Google search terms such as "running and upset stomach", "running and digestion", etc. Hello, friends.

Runner's trots are usually related to a diet that's incompatible with running therefore a simple adjustment of such can remedy the predicament. For example, I've stopped eating hummus before I run after I learned my lesson the hard way. Sabra's delectable Pine-Nut flavor used to be a favorite post-work, pre-run favorite, but hummus contains a very high fiber content. We all know that fiber, well let's just say, encourages a healthy urge to 'go'. Experts recommend the following:
  • Drink plenty of water. Dehydration can cause diarrhea. Pre-run fluid intake shouldn't include sugary fruit drinks or those concentrated energy drinks.
  • Avoid high-fiber foods (yes... thank you) and stick with naturally constipating foods like bananas and bagels.
  • Avoid eating 2-3 hours prior to running
  • Avoid caffeine.
I've only fallen victim to Runner's Trots three times. Once in the middle of my run in South Beach (thank God for some public event going on at the time supplying plenty of public toilets - whew), another time I barely made it up the front stairs, only to find out that I was locked out of the house (don't ask what I did) and finally just yesterday, on my 6-miler at the gym (I left everything and jumped on the elevator back upstairs!). Yes, the situation is hilarious. I mean, how many people can say that they almost crapped their pants at age 26, ...repeatedly?

Olga's coming into town this Wednesday for 6 days (yay!!!!!!!). Guess what my medicine cabinet is stocked with?


PS - Want to see pics of my gym?

What do you MEAN that bouncing up and down on them isn't really an 'exercise'???

Bring it on!!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bored, Fat and Lazy

10 days since my last post - can you believe it?? Disgusting.

There might have been a slow 3-miler or two in the last few days, but this move into the Midtown apartments is making it tough to get motivated. I'm so frustrated and mad at myself. I didn't even want to go to the gym tonight but I was literally BORED, feeling FAT and LAZY. I probably 'dragged' myself down the 15 floors to the gym as a punishment for having horrible thoughts like "I don't need to exercise today...". You may think that race trainees are always happy-go-lucky about running; that they're excited to put their shoes on and once they've finished their run, they write merry articles in their run blogs, eat a fantastically healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner and are giddy with delight in thinking about their next run. Please allow me to put those assumptions to rest.

Just in moving to Midtown and missing several run clubs, I can absolutely believe facts like 7 out of every 10 Americans are overweight (according to a 2011 published study by The Lancet). Once you return to your nest in a high rise, why would you want to leave, after a long day at work? You've got to get changed, walk or drive to the gym, hope your machines are open, work out in the recycled air of a 4-walled room, stimulated by a TV or fans in your face, etc. And that's if you even HAVE the time to do it. If you have other commitments after work, then forget about it. The smart ones will find time on their lunch breaks or get up early in the morning to exercise - something I could never, ever do as I've always been a night worker out-er. I think that's a word. Anyway, I was bit hard by The Bug tonight. The 'you-can-just-run-tomorrow' Bug. I'm pretty sure that's the same Bug that says '...sure, eat this delicious Steak Gorgonzola Panini at 1am on St. Patrick's Day... you can work it off tomorrow'. This bug needs to be squashed immediately.

I managed to get myself downstairs and did a hard 30 minutes on the treadmill; which I've come to discover is 110% boring to me. I was almost drooling at the concrete of Biscayne Blvd that I could see out the windows; I'm just a little nervous to run where I'm unfamiliar. Clearly, this will be rectified immediately because I was almost rolling my eyes at how monotonous the repetition of foot-in-front-of-foot-on-a-conveyor-belt has become. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate gyms for everything that they are, but I've been priveleged to run in a gorgeous environment on the beach and have come to realize that it's the great outdoors that gets me going. That's what you've gotta do - find out what gets you going. Do you need the outdoors? Do you need a gym? Do you need top of the line clothes? Do you need a buddy? Do you need a great playlist? Do you need a schedule? I've discovered that I need to register for races and set a goal time to complete it. That keeps me motivated in my training. Currently I'm looking at completing the Pensacola Half Marathon on April 10th in 1:35:00.

Find out what it is that will work for you. Because there will always be those days when seeing your feet up on the sofa will be much more tempting than seeing your feet laced up in those tennis shoes!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Treadmill vs. Outdoor Running

I actually had to Google this when I got back from the gym.  The treadmill confuses me. It hurts my body in ways that the outdoors doesn't. My knees ache, my abs get really tight (not that that's necessarily a 'bad' thing). Anyway, I couldn't make it to the beach tonight so I thought I'd drop into the trusty gym-bo instead. I guess after running outdoors for the last few months, it's bound to be a little awkward scrambling one foot in front of the other on a rotating rubber mat. I'm sure it didn't help that I ran without headphones or a TV screen in front of me, making me acutely aware of every bone, muscle and nerve in my body.

Tonight, Running Planet tells me "...a slight, whole body, forward lean will enlist the help of gravity just enough to assist with directing your momentum smoothly forward. Keep your hips pressed forward and your butt tucked in." Check. At least my form is correct.  It also says that, "...studies have estimated that outside air resistance creates an increase in your workload between 2% and 10%, depending upon your running speed." So, apparently I'm performing between 2% and 10% less on a treadmill?

Well, what I did tonight was something that Frankie taught us last week at Run Club. Sprints. Last week, I thought I was going to ...die. We ran 1 mile to the track, then we ran 4 laps as fast as we could, with a 2 minute break in between each lap. I came in as one of the 1st girls for each sprint! To be honest though, I only ran 3 laps since I felt entirely too nauseous and dizzy to attempt the 4th. Wouldn't want to be that girl - vomiting on the track in front of 100 people that you only see once a week! But I digress. So, tonight I ran 10 minutes at a steady 6.4mph then alternated between an 8.0mph sprint and the steady 6.4mph at 1-minute intervals for the next 10 minutes. So I was only up there for 20 minutes, but like Frankie said, "If you want to get faster and faster in the long runs, you gotta do the sprints." So here I am. I'm a-sprintin'.

In my immediate research of a few other websites, the seemingly obvious difference between treadmill and outdoor running comes down to the fact that on a treadmill you will have:

  • Decreased wind resistance (unless... what? the fan is blowing on you...?)
  • Assistance via the propelling belt
  • No terrain changes
Therefore, the only way to comparably use the treadmill in place of the outdoors is when you maintain the same effort as if you were outdoors. It's funny when I think about this. I was only breathing through my nose until 8 minutes in. Not exactly the huffing|puffing outdoor momentum encountered on those  boardwalk runs. Time to step it up. According to the Journal of Sports Science "...a 1% treadmill grade most accurately reflects the energetic cost of outdoor running." Okay, so we'll up it by 1% next time. Though I don't see myself doing long runs on the treadmill. To be perfectly honest, it is really boring to stare at the same traffic lights, BP gas station, 6 palm trees, giving an occasional, awkward wave to the same guard circling the terrace for 20 minutes. So maybe I'll just use it for sprint practice nights. But what's nice about the gym is that I can pack in those isolated muscle exercises as well with the free weights, that giant, bouncy, neon orange exercise ab ball thing...y..., and of course the leg press machines.

Best part about tonight? One night away from Nike South Beach Run Club on Thursday nights!


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Miami Beach 13.1: SUCCESS!

What a gorgeous, gorgeous morning to run a half marathon. And the best part about the day is how 14 hours after the race, my body feels fantastic! I know, I know... the last time we spoke, I was in the middle of a 'slow recovery' routine. But by Friday afternoon, I could fully rotate my left ankle without so much as an ounce of pain anywhere and I wanted that third medal so badly. This 13.1. has been teasing me for weeks now and I was too stubborn to refuse it. Encouraged by Erin Wolff and Emilio Arrieta, I decided to run the race. I knew that I could mentally handle the distance since I had done it twice before, and as far as physical completion, well, I knew I'd have to listen to my body and take it nice and easy. Today wasn't about running to beat a certain time, it came down to my addiction commitment to the amazing feeling of running side-by-side with thousands of people of all shapes and sizes who are pushing themselves to accomplish a personal goal. My stepmom once told me that of all the gaits that horses could do 'forever', it's the trot. So I figured that I could trot my way through the course. And yes, I just called myself a horse.

Emilio, Janet, Liz, Erin, Katie

 There were only 2,000+ registered participants in this race. It was a quiet morning on Ocean Drive but  buzzing with excited runners by 5:30am.  I ran with my friend Emilio (in his first race, ever!). It was a wonderful distraction: running alongside such a friendly, upbeat, equally-out-of-long-distance-shape-but-fiercely-determined-to-just-...finish conversationalist. The first 7 or 8 miles were cake as we trotted over the Rickenbacker Causeway in the early morning sun.  The race carried a Latin theme and the DJ cheer posts encouraged me and my Ecuadorian compadre up and over into downtown Miami. Coming back over the Julia Tuttle Causeway in the rising sun prompted the loss of Emilio's shirt and a few rising groans about our tight extremities.  The last three miles were the toughest by far for Emilio's screaming knees and my lead weight hamstrings. But true to tradition... with 0.1 miles left, rounding the corners of the sidewalk through the welcoming crowd, I gave Emilio a mischievious look, and took off at a sprint. Let it be known that Emilio is fast. I've seen him play soccer and run circles around defenders. But this poor guy couldn't catch me for the life of him. I looked back twice and I couldn't help but smile, partly because I was winning -muahaha - and partly because I was so proud of him for pushing it so hard in the end when I knew he was exhausted.

The finishing time was 2:11 and I couldn't be happier. A 10 minute-mile average when three days ago I wasn't even considering the run? That's awesome!

I feel like I can safely say that what separates days of muscle agony from a pleasant feeling of accomplishment with only minor aches and pains, is your post-race cool down. Miami Beach 13.1 did it up! A masseuse tent, trays of fresh, hot paella, a Michelob Ultra tent, fruit tables, gatorade and water by the gallon, a live DJ and dance floor, two female Latin dancers showing us 'how it's done', and best of all... about 30 port-a-potties with my name on them. After stuffing ourselves full of beer and food, we headed straight to the beach for a swim. The salt water felt a-m-a-z-i-n-g!

 Sure enough, true to another tradition, I took a fantastic 3 hour nap when I got home. I'm not sure which race I'll do next, though I'd like to do one more before I return to DC in April. I'll never be able to beat this terrain! Looking forward to my run next Tuesday :)