Tag Archives: running

New gear!!

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One of the best parts about being a runner is getting new equipment! I treated myself to a Camelbak hydration system and Spibelt, as seen above (thanks Sun and Ski for the birthday coupon! Note: reflective light not included, but look how nicely it clips on!) I was beginning to notice on my long runs that the 16 oz. of water my Fuel Belt holds just wasn’t enough for some hot, humid mornings. So in search of another water holder, I went. 

After trying several on, I settled on the Hydrobak model, pictured above. it is technically a biking model, but I just didn’t like the feel of some of the running models, plus I also didn’t need one to hold 100 oz. of water! This holds 50 when full (1.5 liters). There’s a “bladder” which lives inside the backpack, and a straw system which makes drinking on the go a breeze, way easier than fishing the bottle from my previous belt. Here’s a look at what’s inside the pack:

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I estimate I filled it 2/3 full for this morning, and had enough water after my nearly 6 mile run to drink on the way home. One note though: if the sloshing sound of the water will bother you, this isn’t for you. I found that and the slight sound the straps made rubbing against my shirt kind of soothing, but it may not be for you. Also have had friends recommend using Body Glide around the straps if you are in a sleeveless shirt.

The small zipper pouch at the bottom holds one of my humongous AdvoCare Rehydrate Gels. Very easy to get to without removing the pack. (By the way, I totally recommend these gels. They don’t have the nasty taste of Gu, are lower in calories and are cost-competitive. Only downside is they are only available in lemon. Happy to send anyone a sample to try!)

Now as for the Spibelt there are definitely some pros, but I’m not as in love as I am the Camelbak. Pros: easy to tuck phone etc. into it, bright color is another reflective piece of wardrobe, very easy to whip around to get to the pouch (I rest mine on the small of my back), not as heavy as the Fuel Belt.

Cons: it soaks up every bit of sweat…my photocopy of my license & insurance card (which Houston Fit requires us to carry) was wet, as was the emergency $5 I carry. Also, it pretty much held those two things and my phone, though I could probably leave my phone in its case where I couldn’t in the Fuel Belt attachments (which would help with the sweat issue). And, I could easily take my pouches from the other belt and slide them on here for extra gel and other storage. One other bummer is a problem I have with the other belt of it sliding up a little. I just need to fit it to my waist and not lower.

Overall, I was happy with the new gear. I was nervous about the Camelbak and how my form would be with a backpack, but I actually think it made it easier for me to remember to lean forward and strike midfoot with the weight up there. I also felt a little faster without so much weight on my waist/hips.

Have you tried either of these? What’s been your experience?

Slow but steady…

(This little guy reminds me of how I feel some days with my recovery!)

It’s been 6 weeks since I started physical therapy for my hamstring strain. If you’ve been following along, you might recall that my injury will take closer to 3 months to heal versus a usual 6 weeks because my strain is in the tendon area of my muscle, not the “belly” (main part). Overachiever that I am, if I was going to injure myself, I was going to do it hardcore 😦

So today we did a follow-up evaluation. One of the tests was to try to get each of my legs to a 90 degree angle while lying down, without feeling any pull. Last time I was in, I scored a 50 degree angle on the injured right leg. Today: 62% on the injured leg, 70% on the “good” left leg. Big improvement in my range of motion, but still not there yet (they like a 5% or less difference). And this also says I really need to work on flexibility, overall (boy I miss the drill team days!).

In general, my muscles (both legs) are testing stronger, and going farther before I feel a stretch or pain. It’s a lot less tender when I’m poked, and in an increasingly more localized part of my muscle.

My therapist says I could benefit from another 4-6 weeks of work with them, with the possible addition of soft tissue work to increase blood flow and speed healing in the injured area (it’s much harder to get blood flow to this part of the muscle).

We’ve also agreed that I should lay off the yoga for now, so I don’t risk stretching the wrong way. But I ran a few lengths of the turf today with no problems, so I’m cleared to try some 1-minute intervals again this weekend…it will have been 3 weeks since my last attempt, so the backing off was a good idea.

So my recovery is happening, even if at the turtle’s pace. And since I’m a slow runner to begin with, I’m used to not getting to the finish line quickly!

In the meantime, I have begun my Houston Half Marathon training with Houston Fit. I have opted to join the Purple (walkers) group for now, and have been walking the routes the past few weeks…focusing on achieving distance for now, as well as improving my walk pace for those breaks I know I’ll need when I’m back to running more.

It’s great to have a group to train with, and the post-run core workouts and seminars are definitely a plus! (And a happy note, the planks and bridges I’ve been assigned from PT really help in that core session!)

So for now, I’ll practice patience with being a turtle, so I can be a speedy turtle come January and run across the finish line.

Summer time training

Officially reshared by the Houston Marathon 🙂

Summer time training

Review: Garmin Forerunner 620

It’s been almost 6 years since I’ve upgraded my running technology. I know, bad for someone who used to work for a college of technology! But I like to use products until they are broken or no longer useful, and it was just in the past few months that the band on my Garmin Forerunner 405 finally began to rust. 

So after getting my budget back on track after my move last winter, I decided to splurge and see what was on the market now. If you want to read up on all the features, check out Garmin’s site. What I’m planning to do here is tell you about some of the nifty features I discovered on my first run with it, and show the improvement over the last model I had.

You can see from the photo above that it reports a lot of data post-run. It even tells me if I hit any records (2 since it was my first, longest run and best pace, haha!), as well as my VO2 Max, which I have never known before:

It’s a wee blurry as the screens go by fast (and my phone clearly focused on my shoe!), but I’m at 34, which is towards the top of the good range for my age. This was just an easy run though, my first since straining my hamstring training last weekend, so I was just happy to have a baseline for my future runs.

Speaking of data, the amount of data available in the Garmin Connect app (yes, they finally have an app for that) is also pretty amazing:

It’s nice to get a read on the fastest pace during my efforts, as I want to improve there this year. In fact, it has that data from the runs uploaded from my previous device too! (My run a few weeks ago I had an 8:40 in there!) But the Running Dynamics section is new. I look forward to reading up on that. I suspect my cadence is decent but I could use to get the stride closer to 1.

For the device itself, here are some comparison photos. The heart rate monitor chest strap is up first. Old one on top, new on bottom. New one has a smaller contact and the strap is easier to throw in the laundry:

Next is the actual unit. New one is nestled inside the old. It’s MUCH lighter, and the design of the band allows for a tighter fit. No more jiggling on the run!

Even the chargers are an improvement. Old is on the left, new on the right. Old one you had to plug into the wall, new one is by USB so can plug into computer or my iPhone/iPad chargers and plug into wall. They sell an adaptor for that too if you don’t have such an option.

Other neat features I noticed: easy start (just hit the run button and go, hit again when done to stop), the watch notifies you your pace of each mile as you go, and it also tells you if you’re recovering well on your interval breaks. I still need to program in different training programs, possibly the only negative of this versus the old one which had some built in. I may also just keep the old one if I get a bike, as it had bike tracking where this one seems to just be runs.

All in all, I’m happy I upgraded and am really looking forward to training!

New goals?

I’ve gotten off track from #10kaday. I was doing great the first three months of this year, averaging 10,000 steps a day for the month. If I had some days that I was short, I made up other days. My one and only “New Year Promise (I don’t like resolutions)” was going great. 

I only averaged about 8400 steps a day in April, and this month I’m hovering around a 7900 steps a day average. But, I weigh the least I have weighed all year (down 8 lbs. from Jan. 1 and 10 from my heaviest point in February). So, what gives?

I have a few theories:

  • I wasn’t very active at all last fall. The steps goal was a good way to get moving this year. But the more I began weight training, the more muscle I’m building, which means more fat burning, even on days I don’t get as many steps.
  • I really started watching what I eat in April. That’s when I did my 24 Day Challenge (results here). Which I look at as a lifestyle change, not a diet. I try to follow the clean eating rules of the plan even a good 4 weeks after finishing that adventure.
  • I have started (lightly) race training again. This means long runs on the weekend. Which doesn’t make up for all the sins of an inactive week, but it helps some.

I’m still going to do my best to get as many steps in a day as possible, but a new goal is on the horizon for me: I want to be a faster runner. I ran my best 10k ever last month, and I have at least one 5k coming up this summer before I truly start the half marathon training. 

So, I’ll be seeking out a good track and inching my way towards becoming a faster turtle 🙂

I’ve fallen in love again…

…with running! I have to admit, I had burned out on running after 2 Januaries in a row of half marathons. The spark was gone. Instead of excitement, a look at my sneakers or the thought of miles brought me dread. 

So I took a break for most of 2013. I took dance classes. I became a Zumba instructor (though I am still mainly in student mode). I kept up some fitness, but I didn’t really run. I didn’t race. 

With true love, absence makes the heart grow fonder. I ran on Thanksgiving morning, and really enjoyed it (the scenery at Terry Hershey does not hurt!). But I had moved into my new place 3 days before. The time wasn’t right to get back together. But the possibility of a reunion was there. I felt hope.

I began to daydream about a goal that would spark my return to running. And then, 2 random sightings led me back to my love. First was a post within our AFP International Conference app … another attendee posted about a half marathon the opening day of conference. I knew I wasn’t in shape for a half (plus didn’t want to miss the morning session), but saw there was a 5k option. Better yet, my fellow AFPeep Paola (the Peeps are a flock of social media mavens deputized to spread the association and conference love!) was willing to run it with me. And there were donuts at the finish line. SOLD.

The race was lots of fun, and I had my best 5k time in a while, just under 42 minutes. (Here’s me and Paola after the race having a little fun in front of the Alamo.)

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Around the same time, I happened to see a Tweet from the Chevron Houston Marathon promoting the ambassador program. If my application was selected, I would be part of a team of runners who agree to promote the races through blogs and other social media. I love using social media for good. And for someone who presents on social media (including the latest presentation with AFPeep Dave featuring a baker’s dozen of up and coming apps!), it seemed like I’d be a fool not to apply. So I did.

And here I am, an official ambassador for 2015! I like to think it’s a blend of fate and faith that has brought me back to my love. They say if you love something, set it free…if it comes back, it’s yours.

On my run this past weekend, it felt like everything just clicked. Sure, it was hot out. It wasn’t my best 4 mile time. But it just FELT right … especially those moments when I could feel all the muscles I’ve been working so hard in personal training sessions the past 3 months starting to collaborate. 

I’m not the fastest runner. I take walk breaks. But I give it my all. And that’s all you can ask for in love, to give it your best shot and know that this is what matters.

I look forward to sharing the courtship in the coming months leading up to the big race!