Monday, September 26, 2011

Chaffing: A fact of life

It seems like no matter how much you think you've prepped for a run, there's always a little spot somewhere that you forgot. For me, I most often find these little forgotten places when I jump in the shower after a run and the fires of hell (aka water) sear whatever part of my body I've missed. Still, no matter what, there are some things we can use to help prevent as much chaffing as possible. Here are just a few of the items that I like to use:

Nexcare Waterproof Tape. I was turned onto this stuff by my SIL. It's great stuff. It looks very similar to moleskin except that its slick on top instead of fuzzy. When you put it on you think, "this stuff is never going to stick through a whole workout." But amazingly, it does! It provides a great barrier for specific smaller patches that you know are going to be a problem (for me, its on my chest where my sports bra meets my boobs... I'm always struggling to keep that area rash-free).
Asics Chafe Free: It is a lotion that again I found via Heather. She gave it to me for a birthday present (Thanks, Heather!!!) and I really like it... much better than Glide stick for use with shorts. This stuff is a lotion that goes on and once it sets, it feels powdery smooth. There's less friction with this than with the Glide, which I have come to not like (at least in the thigh area) because my thighs come together and stick like super glue, creating an incredibly annoying sensation during the run. Just a hint: for those of us that suffer from ye ole thigh chub rub, this stuff is great to use for days when you want to wear a skirt too!
    Asics Capri's: Here in the Pacific NW, we don't have to wear shorts too many months out of the year to stay cool. Most of the time you can stay cool enough via your workout clothes. For the above mentioned chub rub, I love, love, love my Asics Women's Performance capris.  I have had these for a year now and they aren't even close to wearing out or thinning in the thigh area. They are awesome! 

    Boudreax's Butt Paste: Finally, let's face it, as I said above, no matter how much preparation you make, there's always some spot that escapes and shows up in the shower. For those, my favorite after-running-chafe treatment is Boudreax's. Yes, it is a diaper rash ointment, but it's great for all kinds of rashes. It seems to dry up the rash, to help it heal and it's nice and soothing to help with the itching and pain. Not only that, but it has a very pleasant smell (at least I think it is)!

    Well, these are some of my anti-chaffing ideas. I hope that they can help someone out there to take the sting out of their daily runs... at least a little bit!

    Today's Long Run
    12.80 Miles
    5.11 mph
    11:44 pace

    Friday's Run
    7.00 Miles
    5.24 mph
    11:28 pace

    Thursday, September 22, 2011

    No, I'm not talking finance, I'm talking toes...

    Recession (noun): to move away; retreat

    No, I'm not talking about the economic situation here, there are far more qualified people to discuss this on untold numbers of websites & blogs. No, what I'm talking about today is the unfortunate action my toenails are taking. Now, I've knows quite a number of people to actually lose toenails - my SIL is among those ranks - but it occurs to me to wonder how many people have receding toenails. It also occurs to me to wonder exactly how far my toenails will recede before just giving up the ghost altogether. It's been a slow, morbidly fascinating journey into toenaillessness.

    I have been watching the deterioration of my toenails over many months now and today in an effort to take stock and try to keep them from snagging or tearing, I clipped & filed them down to where the quick(I use the term loosely) currently resides on each toe. Right now I have at least 5 toenails (yikes, I just realized that's 50% of my toes!) that are in various stages of decline. A couple of them have started to work loose at the sides, but all of them are much smaller toenails than they ever used to be before I started running.

    What I do find surprising about this is that it is my middle toes on each foot that are battling to retain their nails. I always figured that if I lost a nail it would be on one of my pinky toes as they are seemingly the most susceptible to abuse and my ugly little pinky toes tend to curl under, which I would think would put even more stress on them. My middle toes are unremarkable. None of them are longer than my big toe and I always just figured they hung out there in the middle and played only supporting roles in my ability to balance and propel myself forward. However, if the nails are any indication, this is anything but the case.

    I guess I should be grateful in some ways. My toenails are not going through any kind of catastrophic event where they come loose quickly (and painfully). They're not bleeding, they're not painful at all, and for the most part they've stopped blistering. Still, I have to wonder if the receding toenail(s) is enough to be able to wear the "Toenails are for Sissies" t-shirt as a badge of honor. Technically, I still have all 10 nails, they just cover significantly less area than they once did. Hmph.

    Yesterday's Run 
    7.70 miles
    5.16 mph
    11:38 pace

    Monday's (Long) Run (although it wasn't pretty, after last week's back incident, I guess I should just be thankful to be able to run a long run at all!)
    12.40 miles
    4.95 mph
    12:07 pace

    Saturday, September 17, 2011

    Back in the Groove

    Well, fortunately, my back pain didn't last too too long. By Tuesday I was feeling about 75% better and by Wednesday I felt like I might be up to a short run. I ran, but I could definitely feel the muscles and nerves tweaking in my back and down my leg (sciatic nerve???), so I slowed it down and ended up walking for most of Wednesday's workout. I had no ill effects from Wednesday's workout so I decided to try again. That day I ended up running a little over 5 miles. Then by Friday, I was able to run my full 7. It wasn't a pretty 7, but I think that had more to do with my attitude than with anything physical going on.

    My back is still a little twinge-y so I know I'm not 100% yet, so it remains to be seen if a long run will happen on Monday or not. I hate to miss a second week of long runs with Girlfriend's Half coming up in just a few weeks, but I guess it's better to miss a long run or two now, than to be down and out for the long haul. It's just frustrating. I still don't know what, exactly, happened to me to make my back go all caddy-wampus like this, but then that's the way it happened the last time my back went out too. They say (the royal "they") that most of the time it has to do with twisting and lifting all in one motion... our backs definitely don't like that particular movement. I don't remember doing that last weekend, but who knows?

    Anyway, I'm glad to say I'm back up and running... both literally & figuratively... sorry for the pun. I couldn't resist!

    Friday's Run
    7.62 Miles
    5.08 mph
    11:49 pace

    Thursday's Run
    5.30 Miles
    5.27 mph
    11:23 pace (not bad, considering!)

    Wednesday's Run
    3.0 Miles
    Don't ask about particulars!

    Monday, September 12, 2011

    Agh! My Back!

    So, I don't know what happened... yesterday morning I noticed my back was a little stiff... Was it the vacuuming and mopping I did on Saturday? Was it the entertainment unit I helped my DH carry out to the curb for a fellow Freecylcer to pick up later in the day? Well, I can't tell you exactly what I did over the weekend to tweak my back, but by the time I woke up this morning, my back was in full-blown pretzel mode. I suspect that had it been x-rayed there might've been a big "L" shape in my lower spine! Getting out of bed was torturous, feeding the cats was near comical, and now, any movement that requires some kind of transitional movement of my core (standing to sitting, bending over, squatting, etc.) elicits an riot of muscle spasms in my lower back.  Needless to say, my long run did not happen today... okay, let's be frank, a short run didn't happen today... even a stroll to the mailbox might be optimistic - that remains to be seen.

    One thing I did learn through a little online research this morning is that back muscle spasms are fairly common among runners. Of course, it is much more glamorous (?!?) if you can throw out your back while actually running instead via some vague arbitrary household activity as in my case, but nonetheless, this is an occurrence frequently experienced by those of us who run. Unfortunately. While the ever dreaded back spasm can happen for a myriad of reasons, there is one suspicious cause that seems to be a contributing factor if not the sole reason for our (my) woes. And that is the lack of focus that runners give to core strengthening exercises. We (I) get so caught up in improving our times, improving our strides, gaining that little bit of extra distance that we  (I) often forget that doing core work is also an important aspect of our conditioning - leaving us more susceptible to the ever dreaded back-out-of-whack. Oops.

    On a personal note, something else I discovered this morning is that I'm feeling a little bereft without my Monday morning (long) run. Strangely, it has become something I look forward to and while I can't say that I love the stupid thing while I'm in the middle of it (I'm convinced that a 12-13 mile run is not something to love), it has sort of become the benchmark by which I start my week. Instead, today I'm relegated to the time honored traditions of rest, ice, heat, ibuprofen, & stretching and I find myself actually missing my run.

    It's strange how the transition happens so slowly and subtly that you don't even notice it. When you first start an exercise program, you (okay, I) start out dreading every step that you take but then somewhere along the line it becomes habit and while you may not precisely look forward to it, or even enjoy it, you know that you're doing what's best for your physical and mental well-being. Then one day, wham-o, you are restricted from doing that which you have, over time, incorporated into your life until it becomes a part of who you are (i.e., my running). It's only at that point that you realize exactly how much it's come to mean to you, how much you take it for granted, and how much you miss it when you can't do it. Sniff.

    Seriously though, with a little focused attention to the care of my back, I hope to be up and running again (literally) by later in the week. Viva la Ibuprofen!!!

    Friday's Run
    7.0 Miles
    5.18 mph
    11:34 pace

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    August Miles

    Well, it looks like my averages are creeping up. I was surprised to see how many miles I ran in August. It was a bunch more than I did in July, but I'm certainly not complaining!

    Here's hoping September is another good one!

    August Miles: 125.5
    Total 2011 Miles: 781.4
    Monthly Average: 97.7

    Remember Hydration!

    Since today is maybe the hottest day of the year (at least so far) here in the Pacific NW, I thought it was a good opportunity to remind everyone about hydration. Once again, this is  "do as I say, not as I do" advice as I can sometimes be a bit lax in my own hydration efforts and my runs definitely reflect that... see below and my run from today which was actually slower than my long run on Monday! Agh! I struggled to get a full 7 miles in and it was nowhere near a personal best time for me. Anyway, I digress.

    When you hydrate properly before a run and then during a run (or whatever is your workout of choice), you will perform better and stave off dehydration and it's effects. According to the April 2010 Journal of Athletic Training, dehydration causes your body's blood volume to drop which in turn can impact its ability to transfer heat efficiently which then forces your heart to beat faster thus making it difficult to perform at your peak aerobic form... who knew???

    Along with effecting your performance, dehydration in milder forms can also cause muscle cramps which will also impact your workout. In more severe forms in can result in heat exhaustion or worse, heat stroke. Your body can go into shock and it can even cause kidney failure. So, in an effort to avoid even the least of these problems, take some elementary precautions and preparations for your run/workout.

    One to two hours before your workout, try to drink 8 to 16 oz of water or sports drink to make sure your body is fully hydrated when starting out. Then, during your run, you should make a point of drinking 3 to 6 oz. of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes. For days that I run on the treadmill, this is pretty easy for me to do... I just watch the timer. On days that I run outside, it's a little tougher, but I still usually have my running watch timer going and I just try to keep it to drinking on the 20's or a little before (20 minutes, 40 mins, 60 mins, etc). Be sure to drink small amounts frequently. This will help your body to better absorb the fluids that it needs and will also help your tummy to keep from sloshing (Ew! I hate it when the happens!).

    Of course, these are just general guidelines. Many athletes will take the additional step to determine their own body's specific needs. You can do that by weighing yourself (naked) before your run and then weighing yourself after your run (go ahead and hydrate as you normally would during the run). Once you determine how much weight your lost during the run, you will know approximately how much fluid you sweated off during that run, thus how much more fluid you need to be consuming. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, you should gear your fluid intake so that you lose no more than 2% of your overall body weight during a workout. Anything greater than that will begin to affect health as well as performance.

    For more information on this topic, check out the Runner's World online article. And whatever is your sport of choice remember to stay hydrated!

    Today's Run
    7.0 Miles
    5.10 mph
    11:46 pace

    Monday's (Long) Run
    12.0 Miles
    5.11 mph
    11:44 pace

    Friday, September 2, 2011

    Patience can be tough!

    I just wanted to send out a little reminder about the virtues of patience in your meeting weight loss and/or exercise goals. As many of you know, I have a love/hate relationship with the TV show "Biggest Loser." I think it is fabulous that they inspire people to eat healthier and to lose weight AND to get off their behinds to get moving. This is something that we all know is desperately needed in this country.

    What I don't like about the show is their portrayal of unrealistic weight loss. 99.9% of the country do not have the luxury of having access to professional trainers and the ability to work out for 5 to 8 hours a day. And yes, folks, this is what the contestants on the Biggest Loser do... essentially, weight loss is their career for the weeks/months that they are on the ranch. I wish the producers of the show would do more to promote realistic weight loss goals amongst the general populous. Unfortunately, this isn't what makes up compelling television.

    Let's be honest here. Real-life weight loss and fitness achievements are hard, tedious and sometimes boring work. Do I love my workouts every single day? No way. Do I eat healthy at every single meal? Hardly. Still, I persist because I know that these things over the long haul will get me to my goals.

    Sometimes it can be easy to give up when your goals aren't coming as quickly as you would like. But I am here to tell you that your goals will come if you just keep on keeping on. I hope that I am testimony to that fact. To date, I have lost around 85 lbs and today I set a new 80-minute distance PR, but it has taken me 3 YEARS to achieve these milestones, not 3 months as they portray on BL.

    I had someone (I don't even remember who now, it's been so long ago) remind me once that you didn't gain all your weight quickly, so why would you expect to lose it quickly (and keep it off)? That is my no-calorie food for thought for the day. I'll try to keep that in mind the next time the scale or my sports watch aren't giving me the numbers that I had hoped for. :o)

    Today's Run
    7.09 Miles
    5.32 mph
    11:17 pace

    Thursday, September 1, 2011

    The Buddy System

    As many of you already know, several weeks back I had a scare with hypothermia and had it not been for the fact that my DH was home sick that day, I don't like to think about how differently that day might have turned out. As it was, he was able to get me warmed back up and today I am fine, but it has caused some changes in the way I conduct my workouts every day.

    The thing I wanted to focus on today is the fact that no matter if you prefer to run alone or if you just happen to work out alone most days due to the fact that no one is on the same schedule or running pace as you doesn't really matter. What does matter is that you find yourself a running/workout buddy. Now, I'm not saying you have to give up your solitary endeavor. I know for many people, running or working out is the means by which they release the stressors of the day and get some quality alone time inside their heads. This is okay, in fact, it may even be necessary.

    What I'm advocating is a running buddy of a different sort. In fact, your buddy could be your 90 year old wheelchair bound Aunt Gertrude. This isn't about someone who can go out and match you mile for mile. No, this is about making sure there is someone that has some idea of your whereabouts while you are working out and could contact help on your behalf if you don't show up at a specified time.

    Since my hypothermia scare for me, this means contacting my DH (via email) as I'm heading off to do my run and letting him know an approximate time that he should expect to hear of my safe return. I then email him upon my return. I do this even on days when I stay in the house to workout on the treadmill or do cross-training. I've now learned that just because I'm in the house doesn't mean I'm necessarily out of danger. (My hypothermia scare didn't hit me immediately... I had made it all the way to the bathroom in the house and had started to strip out of my workout clothes before the full force of it hit me.) If he doesn't hear from me in that amount of time, he calls my cell phone (which I always carry with me now) to see if I'm able to answer it. I know my sis-in-law and my brother have a similar system set up via text message.

    It doesn't matter how your buddy system works... who knows... You might even actually want or be able to find a real live buddy to run with you, the main point is to have a system worked out with someone who can be a reliable way to save you from yourself (hypothermia, for instance, can impair your judgment) if it ever becomes necessary.

    Yesterday's Run
    5.28 mph
    11:22 pace

    Monday's (Long) Run
    12.80 Miles
    5.12 mph
    11:43 pace