Tuesday, January 30, 2018

I Have Found the Fountain of Youth and It's In The Weight Room

A few weeks ago, I had lunch with a runner friend of mine, another woman who happens to be in my age group. We were talking about how much we are struggling with running paces that just a few years ago were easy for us. Getting older sucks for runners, especially women runners. The number of finishers in the women's' 50+ age groups drops dramatically, especially after age 55.

It is a well-known fact that endurance begins to decline after age 40 for both men and women. Stride length and speed decrease as well (source). Flexibility also decreases. But most importantly, muscle mass and strength decline. Women lose up to 30% of overall strength between the ages of 50 and 70. For women, decreases in estrogen and testosterone after menopause affects the ability to maintain muscle mass.

What if I don't want to slow down? What's an aging woman runner to do? Besides giving up on running? Is rocking in the rocking chair an endurance activity?

I refuse to accept the common wisdom that equates growing older with frailty and weakness. I'm not ready to call it quits and if you're reading this, you probably aren't ready to call it quits either. The good news is you can keep running into old age and maybe postpone or at least minimize some of the inevitable effects of aging. But you do have to change the way you train. Put on your running shoes and head to the weight room. Yep, strength training is the key to staying youthful.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Who's Old? I Mean, Cold?

Finally, this cold month of January is coming to an end. We've had decent temperatures this week and with 2 weeks to go before the Mercedes Half Marathon, I needed some good runs. For the most part, the pavement was clear and I was able to pick up the pace again.

Before I start my weekly wrap-up, I want to give a big shout out to Teresa, who blogs at Finding Fabulous at Fifty. She ran her first ever marathon this weekend, the Mississippi Blues Marathon. That's 26.2 miles IN THE POURING RAIN, y'all. All the while battling foot issues. She finished strong and I am so proud of her. Please be sure to go over to her blog or Instagram and congratulate her!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Runfessions: January

Here we are again, standing in front of the runfessional. Yes, it's the last Friday of the month and it's time to clear our running conscience of all that is staining our runners' soles. Nothing to runfess? That's a runfession right there. Come on in. I promise you'll feel so much better and lighter on your feet!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Why Are All the Best Running Songs About Getting High?

Disclaimer: I do not want anyone to think that by writing this post that I am in any way condoning the use of illicit drugs. 

Why are all the best running songs about getting high? I'm pretty sure most of you've probably never had this thought. I'm also sure it will be no surprise to most of you that I have thought about this. With plenty of time to myself on my last long run, I settled into my pace and my music. I pondered this question while listening to my current favorite running song, appropriately titled High by the alternative group Sir Sly.
"It feels good to be running from the devil, another breath and I'm up another level, it feels good to be up above the clouds, it feels good for the first time in a long time now..."
Maybe you're reading this and you're thinking, "what is she smoking?" or "did she finally accept that medical marijuana from her rheumatologist?" (she offered, I declined) or maybe "I don't know what she's smoking but I want some of that".

Or maybe you are just rolling your eyes. Maybe you listen to pop music when you run or maybe you listen to nothing. But I bet there's a group of us out there who listen to music and run not only for fitness but for the entire experience. Running isn't just a physical act, but a feast for the senses. Running is a mind/body experience. Yep, I grew up in the 1970s.

Life isn't always a peaceful, easy feeling. Maybe you're like me and you run because you are high strung and need an outlet. Road therapy, right? I don't always solve the world's problems on my runs, but when I do, I do my best thinking when I'm running.

Then there are those times when you don't want to think. Sometimes, you need an escape from the reality of life. Music is and has always been, for me, the perfect escape. Running to music? Even better.
"Swallow me whole, finding my peace of mind." ~Sir Sly. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

January Thaw

This post contains affiliate links.

In spite of the bitter cold that we've all been complaining about, once again this month we are experiencing a January thaw and it feels so nice! What also felt nice this week was being able to cut back on my miles a bit. Who doesn't love a cut back week? I also enjoyed some CrossFit and yoga and lunch with Marcia where we caught up on life and all things running and blogging.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Book Review: The End of the World Running Club

Disclaimer: I received a copy of The End of the World Running Club from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links.

I originally picked up this book last summer, thinking it would be a great read for the blog book club. At the time, I read it about 25% of the way through but the story just didn't grab my attention. Fast forward to the present. I joined a running book club on Facebook and guess what book they were reading for November? I decided to give The End of the World Running Club another chance and long story short, I am so glad that I did!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Foot Pain: A Runner's Search for Answers

Disclaimer: This is an update of a post I prepared in 2014. I received a pair of Oesh shoes in exchange for my honest review. 

When you tell people you are a runner, what is the first thing they say to you? Does it have something to do with ruining your knees? If I had a dollar for every time I've heard that running is going to ruin my knees, I could retire and move somewhere warm. Can I put it out in the universe and say emphatically that I've never had issues with my knees?

What I have had problems with are my feet. When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Most studies report a force of 3x body weight on the feet during a run. That means for this 125 pound runner, my feet absorb 375 pounds with every foot strike. So it's no wonder that my feet sometimes beg for mercy! Actually, it's amazing that they let me run any sort of distance.

Since we ask so much of our feet, it's important that we take good care of them. That includes proper footwear. I've got some experience here, having had more than my share of issues with my feet over the past couple of years!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Cold as Ice

"You know that you are...cold, cold, as, as ice...." ~ Foreigner

I know it's a bad song but the lyrics to Cold As Ice have been running through my head all weekend. We had a short break from the cold this week, but we traded that bitter cold and sunshine for rainy, windy, and gloomy. I'm not saying I like the cold, but I do enjoy seeing the sunshine. When you live in the Midwest, warm weather in January always comes with a price. Still, it was nice to shed a few layers, even if it meant getting wet.

The frosty conditions returned just in time for me to wrap up the Lululemon/Strava 80/40 challenge. I swear, the act of layering up to run takes longer than the actual run itself. I'm not just running for the prize--I do need to log miles for my upcoming half and the challenge gave me some incentive to do just that. But can we please see some moderation in temperatures? Please?

Friday, January 12, 2018

5 Great Running Blogs You Probably Haven't Read

How many of you participate in blog linkups? Do you drop a link, read a few posts that were linked ahead of you, and move on? Or do you come back later to see what's been dropped after you linked up? One of the purposes of linkups is to help bloggers grow through supporting other bloggers. Linkups also allow you to find new blogs that you may not have learned about otherwise.

I was a runner long before I started blogging, and even then I went to linkups to read running blogs for inspiration. I was so inspired by what I read that I started my own blog. My first post, titled The Gift of Running, was published 4 years ago. That first post wasn't read by many people and it's pretty rough, but you have to start somewhere, right? While my blog has blossomed over the past 4 years, it wouldn't have happened without the support of linkups and other bloggers.

Last week, I started co-hosting duties with my friend Holly at the Weekly Wrap linkup. We had 50 linkers. Since the link up is open for 3 days, there are late linkers who don't get a lot of love from people who linked several days before. That's a shame because there are some real gems at the end of the linkup! For today's Friday 5 post, I wanted to share 5 of my late linking favorites from the Weekly Wrap.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

5 Tips for Surviving the Treadmill

Disclaimer: This is an update of a post from 2015. 

Here we are, once again, with another polar vortex or whatever you want to call it. The east coasters have their bomb cyclone. Even the Floridians are cold! Mother Nature seems to be angry. I live in Chicago, but it's been colder here than Antarctica. The winter weather has been hard, except for Californians, although they've had wildfires and smoke to contend with. Running outside has been a challenge for everyone!

For most of us suffering in the cold, moving to a warmer clime, while attractive, is not a viable option.

If you've been following me at all,  you know how much I despise running on my treadmill. I'll run outdoors in extreme conditions just to avoid running on my treadmill. The cold doesn't bother me much when I'm dressed appropriately. But during the winter, unpredictable conditions make outdoor running a challenge. Wiping out on black ice is never fun.

There have to be pretty extreme weather conditions for me to take it to my 20 year old treadmill, and so far this winter, I've only had to use it once. Yes, it was a slog. But I survived and came up with a few suggestions about how to push through a run on the dreadmill.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Running Over Challenges

Disclaimer: I was sent a One Up Band non-slip headband in exchange for my honest review.

It's a new year with new goals and new challenges as well as new opportunities! Starting today, I will be joining Holly as co-host of the Weekly Wrap. I'm sad to see Tricia go and I know I've got big shoes to fill. While many of the WW regulars already know me, I'm looking forward to reading some new training recaps and getting to know some more runners. There's a new badge at the bottom of this post that you can use for the linkup. If you are unfamiliar with the rules of the road, I've copied them from Holly's blog and you can find them under the Weekly Wrap tab at the top of my blog. Please let Holly or me know if you have any questions.

So how was your week? I know that a lot of us have been challenged by the weather. Most of us have been trapped in the deep freeze for the past couple of weeks. Then there was that bomb cyclone out east, which made my cold weather seem a little less awful. I'm hoping everyone is safe, dry, and warm right now.

Friday, January 5, 2018

5 Things I'd Share Over Coffee

Once again, it's time to sit down over a cup of coffee and catch up. Doesn't it seem like we just did this? Time flies, that's for sure.

Let me pour you a cup--I've still got some Starbucks Chrismas blend here. Cream and sugar? Baileys? Bourbon? Want to just skip the coffee?

Let's chat.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Look, Listen, and Feel: Using Your Senses to Improve Your Running Technique

Are you making New Year's resolutions? Setting running goals for the year? Do you want to run a new distance or PR a certain distance?

Back in the day when I was a new runner, I was really fortunate to run with a friend, Jayne, who had experience as both a runner and as a personal trainer. As we ran and worked out together, she gave me invaluable advice on which I continue to rely to this day. One thing that we really worked on was my running form. No matter what kind of shoes you are wearing or how much data you get from your Garmin, you'll never improve if you don't work on good running form. To this day, I am grateful to the advice Jayne gave me in that regard.

After reading Mindful Running last year, I started paying close attention to my form again. I was frustrated with my poor performance earlier in the year, culminating in that DNF at a Labor Day 10k. Something had to change and I began utilizing some of those mindfulness techniques on my runs. I don't think it's a coincidence that I started running some very satisfying miles after that, finishing 2017 on a high point. Running with good form increases your efficiency as a runner (you aren't wasting energy on unnecessary movements) and improves your running economy.