async="src="/ Taking the Long Way Home: November 2019

Friday, November 29, 2019

Black Friday Runfessions

Doesn't this feel like the longest month ever? With 5 Thursdays this month, I thought Thanksgiving would never come. Hopefully, all of you survived your day with your loved ones and are now recovering from your food coma or hitting the Black Friday sales. Me, I'm at work because illness never takes a day off.

I'm thankful for Marcia and her monthly Runfession Sessions. It's time to cleanse the soles and start this holiday season off with a fresh slate. Do you runfess? It's pretty painless...



Tuesday, November 26, 2019

10 Unique Holiday Gifts for the Runner in Your Life and Links to Other Gift Lists

HOHOHO! I'm hosting a Holiday Fitness Gift Guide Linkup now through December 24. Please feel free to link up your gift guides all month long! Excited to see what everyone is sharing. 
Fine Print: Fitness related gift guides only, please. All others will be removed. 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

'Tis the season to be shopping...and running...

Pretty much all I want for Christmas is running stuff. I think I'm easy to shop for, but oddly enough, I rarely receive anything running related. It's as if my family and friends don't even know me. If only they read my blog...

This year I got smart and started shopping early! Maybe I've even already bought myself a thing or two off my list. Maybe I've received some of these things as gifts! Maybe you'll find something you want. All I have to say is---I love everything on this list!



Sunday, November 24, 2019

Running with the Coyotes

Compared to the previous week, our weather normalized, the ice melted, and I was able to get outside and enjoy all of my runs! My big toe, which I injured last week after I slipped on the black ice, was still sore but didn't bother me on my runs. And while the title of this post may be a little bit of clickbait, I did have an encounter with a coyote on one of my runs. It's not my first coyote. No worries--you know those coyotes aren't interested in me. That little Yorkie I passed a few minutes earlier might want to go inside though...



Friday, November 22, 2019

Book Review: Older, Faster, Stronger by Margaret Webb

Disclaimer: I originally reviewed Older, Faster, Stronger by Margaret Webb in 2014. This is an update of my original post. It's such a great book that I wanted to revisit it. This post contains affiliate links.

I hope you don't think I'm being pompous by saying that I could have written this book. At age 51, after being plagued with running injuries, I decided to work with a CrossFit coach to get stronger so that I could keep running the rest of my life. She worked my muscles, while I was in charge of my running. That year was incredible for me. I ran my second Chicago Marathon, finishing with a 1 hour, 10 minute PR. That was the year that I finally felt comfortable with the fact that I'm in my 50s. I was in the best shape of my life and that reshaped my attitude about growing older.

Five years later, I still find this book as relevant as before. Those of you who regularly follow me, either here on the blog or on Instagram know that I've continued running, although my marathon days are behind me. I've increased my strength training to twice weekly and have continued to get stronger. While I don't buy into the "age is just a number" nonsense, I do believe that growing older doesn't have to mean giving up active pursuits! We just have to be smarter about it.


At the time Older, Faster, Stronger was released, I was drawn to the book--because Webb's goal, at age 51, was to have her "fittest year". A lifelong runner, she wanted to shake off her midlife malaise and regain the level of fitness she enjoyed in her 20s as a collegiate runner. Her race goal? To place in the top 10 for the half marathon at the World Masters Games. Along the way, she consulted with experts and legends in women's running, using this information to crush much of the so-called wisdom about aging athletes.
"The difference between the front and the back of the pack tends to widen in older age groups, and often the vastly superior winners of older age-groups ran fast enough to be competitive in age groups younger than their own--clearly able to maintain their incredible speed through training, talent, or some other means of resistance to aging."
This is something I've noticed at races as I've moved through my 50s. The women at the top of the leaderboard are still amazingly fast. When I first saw this, I was shocked at the speedy finish times of some of the women in my age group. I can't help but wonder why? Is it genetics? Training? Diet? Webb tries to sort some of this out. She talks about the importance of sleep and diet in older athletes. While younger athletes can skip a night of sleep and still run well, can feast on junk food and not have it affect performance, the same does not hold true for the older athlete. I also liked her information on carb loading, which essentially is bad advice for older female endurance athletes. Apparently, we don't burn fuel like men do. Interesting! Webb also stresses the importance of cross-training, including yoga, which is so good for runners.

The iron nun, Sister Madonna Buder, at age 83, one of the women featured in the book. She has completed 300 triathlons and 45 Ironmans since taking up running at age 48! She qualified for Boston with her first marathon at age 52. 
There's a lot of detail in the book, and keep in mind that this book is really for running junkies and women looking to maintain or maximize their fitness as the years march on.
"A lot of research now shows that training--aerobic, anaerobic, and strength--has effects on the human body at any age. At any age, you can improve the human body. Exercise can literally keep you young. "
Now, this is good news!! These studies also show that all this exercise causes the release of growth hormone and that may very well be the fountain of youth. Interestingly, human growth hormone (HGH) has been used by endurance athletes to improve performance but is a banned substance. The research to support HGH in endurance sports is limited. That doesn't stop athletes from trying it.

In Older, Faster, Stronger, Webb outlines her race strategy in great detail, including the use of mantras or power words, in her case, one word for each loop of her race:
"fun, stronger, faster, and fearless" 
While I won't share the outcome of her race in this review, I can attest to the power of positive thinking and the use of mantras during a race. I often use mantras during a tough race. Mostly I remind myself to "run your own race" and not get caught up in what is going on around me. Listening to music, especially in long races, can help me shut out the world and get in my head to keep myself focused.

Webb also stresses the importance of bonding with other racers, particularly pre-race:
"For women, this prerace hug fest may be a potent secret weapon, as social bonding can release the hormone oxytocin, which has been credited with reducing fear, anxiety, and even inflammation" 
I completely agree with this, in fact, I just published a post on how to meet running friends. As I've grown older, it's become more important for me to have a sisterhood who 'gets' what I'm going through. Having those friends with me at the start line really helps me stay calm and makes the experience much more fun!

Webb encourages us to be proud of our efforts, whether we reach our goals or not:
"But an important lesson I have learned from my running career: While we can't control the outcome of a race, we can control the effort we put into it, and its important to celebrate that effort, and to celebrate ourselves."
I really enjoyed Older, Faster, Stronger. There are so few books that address the concerns of women who want to keep running as they age. If you are looking for a weight loss book or a guide for beginning runners, this is not that book. Older, Faster, Stronger is written for women endurance athletes who are looking for encouragement and guidance about running the rest of their lives. Webb nailed it, in my opinion. The book is well written and easy to read. Really, for me, I felt like I was talking to a friend about running.

I want to be fitter, faster, and stronger! Older? Not so much. Doing it my way!  /via @oldrunningmom @MargaretWebb @RodaleBooks #running #runchat 

Are you an 'older' athlete? If so, what are you doing to 'stay young'? Do you have any goals that you want to achieve? Do you use mantras at races? 

I'm linking up with Fridays with Fairytales and Fitness.


Tuesday, November 19, 2019

How to Meet Other Runners

Recently on Facebook, a 'chain' post has been circulating. You may have seen it. It's called the '10 day Running Challenge' and runners are 'nominated' by other runners to share 10 days of photos from a memorable day in your life of running. I don't normally do these things but I thought it might be fun--at least for me, lol-- to share some memories from my years of running and racing. No one that I've nominated has taken me up on the challenge, though.

A friend of mine from high school, who I admire greatly and nominated for this challenge, sent me a message. She wanted to do the challenge but told me she doesn't know any runners to nominate to the challenge. She told me her New Years' resolution is to find some running friends.

It sounds so trite. But I totally understood where she was coming from. In the past, none of my friends were runners. I was used to running alone. I'd go to races alone and see groups of runners cheering each other on and celebrating together after the race. For introverted extroverts like me, meeting new people isn't easy. However, over the past 10 years, I've met other runners and have found a nice balance between my love for solo runs and the desire for socializing at races. Plus I needed people I could talk to about running!

How can runners meet other runners?

Marcia, Renee, and me spectating at the 2019 Chicago Marathon

Sunday, November 17, 2019

The Glass Half Full is Frozen

For the past couple of weeks, while the Midwest has been immersed in an early winter, I've been running outside, sucking it up like the warrior I claim to be. Heck, on Wednesday, I even followed my own advice from my post on Winter Running tips and layered up, completing a 6 mile run in subzero windchills. Because that's how we winter warriors roll. Trying to find our own sunshine, even when the skies are gray and there's snow on the ground.



Friday, November 15, 2019

Some Friday Randomness because...

Hey, hey, hey! It's FRI-YAY and I don't have a topic for a blog post. Instead, I have a bunch of randomness that I wanted to share. No ads, no affiliate links, heck, no advice. It's really a blog post about nothing...or a lot of little somethings.



Tuesday, November 12, 2019

9 Tips for Running Outside in the Winter

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

I can't believe I've never posted on this topic. Certainly, I've talked about running outside in the winter here on the blog many times. After all, I am the queen of running outside all year round. Last winter, when my treadmill died, I seriously contemplated not replacing it. I used the old one so infrequently, it lasted 21 years! Then the polar vortex hit and that reframed my perspective. Still, my new treadmill has only been used a handful of times. I frequently espouse the mental and physical benefits of fresh air and natural light. Besides, running outside in the deep of winter will earn you a reputation with your family and friends. Either they will call you "Crazy" or they will bestow you with compliments like "Badass" or "Diehard".

It's all good.

If you want to brave the winter and run outside, I've got tips for staying warm and upright in the cold. You might be cursing me when you start, but I guarantee that when you finish your run, you'll be thanking me. Running outside in the winter can be a pretty amazing experience! It can also be a challenge. Being prepared will keep you warm and safe.



Sunday, November 10, 2019

Feeling Good!

Another great week of running and CrossFit. Guys, I don't want to jinx myself but can I just say it: It feels good to feel good! Who knows how long I can ride this wave--RA is always lurking in the corner, but I'm going to ride this wave as long as I can. I'm continuing to increase my miles in preparation for the Schaumburg Turkey Trot Half Marathon, which takes place in 3 weeks.

Sunday's 3 miler, which was slow and a bit painful!

Friday, November 8, 2019

Book Review: The Pursuit of Endurance: Harnessing the Record-Breaking Power of Strength and Resilience

This post contains affiliate links.
"Endurance isn't the ability to overcome pain, it is the ability to embrace it with no end in sight."
"Endurance is about trusting the invisible voice you believe in, even if nobody else does. Because there's just as good a chance as not that something's really there.
"But endurance is the ability to continue despite past results and with disregard for future outcomes." 
Jennifer Pharr Davis, author, National Geographic Adventurer of the year, and record holder of the fastest-known time on the Appalachian Trail for four years --her record was broken by Scott Jurek, whose book North details his Appalachian Trail run-- shares stories of feats of endurance as well as her own story in the very engaging The Pursuit of Endurance. Like Jurek's book, I expected The Pursuit of Endurance to be Pharr Davis' story, but instead, she shares her story along with the stories of many others who have inspired her. Interspersed throughout the book are tips and advice to guide the reader to developing endurance as well as mental toughness. She believes and espouses that anyone who really wants to do can push themselves farther than they think.


Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Race Recap: Hot Chocolate 15k

Will run for chocolate.

As much as I love chocolate, I'd rather run for beer, but it has to be a good beer and that doesn't seem to be much of an option these days! I've run the Hot Chocolate 15k three times now. It's not my favorite race--there always seem to be some glitches--but I do like the distance and the swag is good. My friend Steph wanted me to run it with her this year. My endurance is returning and I thought the timing was right.

With a 7 am gun time, Steph arrived at my house at 5:15 and we drove to downtown Chicago for the race! Thank goodness for Daylight Savings Time. That extra hour of sleep felt good.



Sunday, November 3, 2019

Don't Call it a Comeback

This post contains affiliate links. 

Don't call it a comeback, I been here for years
Rockin' my peers and putting suckas in fear
Making the tears rain down like a monsoon
Listen to the bass go boom...
~LL Cool J, Mama Said Knock You Out

I returned to long-distance running with this week with a run in downtown Chicago at the Hot Chocolate 15k. Happy to pin on a bib for a distance longer than a 5k--my last long race was in January--but I'm not calling it a comeback. Let's just consider it getting back on track.


Friday, November 1, 2019

Coffee Talk

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Let's catch up over coffee! Once a month, Deborah and Coco host a coffee chat where a bunch of bloggers talk about what's going on in our lives. Besides running, that is! I'm having a cup of that yummy Colectivo Co-Optiva that I picked up again in Madison last week. Don't you love regional coffees? Do you take anything in your coffee? I've got half and half over here...