Saturday, May 11, 2013

Trail Run!

I embarked on my first, what I would consider, real "trail run" today.  I've run at Fair Hill natural resource center before, but what I've run there is typically a very well kept single or double track road that's mainly gravel with few areas with roots, loose rocks, etc.  There's even a long stretch of pavement I've done before on my loops.  I ran a little bit of foot trails there with heavy rocks and roots, but it wasn't even a full mile at that and I mainly walked.

Now, that's not to say that I ran the entire 4 miles today.  Hardly! There were chunks, particularly during mile 2 that I had no choice but to hop from rock to rock and side step massive puddles and ankle deep mud.  And of course, sometimes end up in nearly ankle deep mud! For the most part, though, I was able to avoid the thickest mud and huge puddles by finding some creative paths.  Like this one:

One of many giant puddles across the trail
If you look carefully, you can see to the right of the puddle is a secondary trail that was much more passable- if you were willing to get a little pricked with prickly bushes.  I'm lucky that there was a young guy walking ahead of me with his dog, because he actually showed me some of the better ways to navigate the trail by picking through it first and tramping some of it down.

After getting through that nasty part plus some, I meandered up into a high trail through some really muddy woods that forced me to turn around because it was nearly impossible to pass through.  But it got me to a beautiful creek, so it was worth it.  After turning back around, I found another trail.  It climbed and climbed and at one point I almost just turned around because it didn't seem to ever end.  But if I had turned around, I wouldn't have gotten to enjoy this:

Running in the middle of a forest
It was so stunning and peaceful.  For a good stretch up this hill, I enjoyed running on soft pine needles with very little rocks and roots to watch out for.  When I got to this area, it finally started going down a little, so I took it as a sign I should turn back I had been hearing thunder in the distance, and I didn't want to get caught in the storm.  Well, I did anyway.  Good thing I hadn't been wearing my headphones, but I will say that my Garmin didn't dig on the rain AT ALL.  It basically beeped continuously  trying to toggle back and forth like I was touching the bezzle.  O well, at least it kept recording!  I was trying to keep my heart rate below 150 the whole time, but there were some hills that I just resigned to staying under 160.  When it started raining I picked up the pace and just ignored my HR because I wanted to get back.  It was the first time I've ever run in serious rain, where I was dripping from the rain instead of sweat.  It was a very interesting mix on my arms....sunscreen+ sweat+ rain water. Yum.   Within a minute of getting back to my car, the heavens opened up and it was pouring cats and dogs, so I'm glad I turned around when I did!

Think my shoes are broken in?
Now that I am freshly clean, stretched, foam rolled, and refueled..... I still have a smile on my face from that run just thinking about it.  It was great to have some time to just be....all that consumed my head during the run was not falling on my face or twisting my ankle- which took a lot of concentration! I brought my ipod along with me, but after only a single song, I turned it off and stashed it in my hand held bottle- I wanted to just enjoy the trail.  And enjoy I did :)

Do you like running or hiking on trails? What do you look for in a good trail?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Fitness is fun!

I try to keep that motto when I work out- have fun!  In general I try not to do things that I don't enjoy, particularly when it comes to exercise.  Bottom line is, I want to have fun, and suffering through a workout isn't fun.  Yes, I ALWAYS feel better afterwards, but I aim to enjoy the "during" as well.

Well, I've reestablished my fun in running with these:

Altra Intuition 1.5- zero drop
I had a great experience about 3 weeks ago with Miguel at Boston Street Running in Baltimore.  I went in to get new shoes because my wonderful and well loved Merrell Barefoot Dash Gloves were at the end of their running career.  I started out running on the treadmill for him in my Dash Gloves and we watched it back via his recording equipment that tapes all different angles.  His immediate reaction- you have good form.  I felt like I let out a breath I hadn't even realized I had been holding for weeks.  I'd been holding it ever since a day at physical therapy when Barb taped me running to test her new equipment.  I had just done my first decent run with the shoes on the road (not the treadmill), and the balls of my feet were red and painful.  In the recording, I was heel striking- and it was depressing.  I knew why, but it was still frustrating to see the tape given all the time, energy, and focus on totally changing my form. So, hearing Miguel continually praising my form every time I ran gave me the boost of confidence I needed.

I tried on a few different pairs of shoes on the treadmill, including the newest Merrell line, in a shoe with a bit more cushion.  Ultimately I went with the Altra Intuition 1.5, and I put in the 3mm strengthening sole instead of the 5mm stability insole to mimic the Dash Gloves as much as possible.  I wore them at the 5k on Sunday and a few runs before/after and have loved them so far! The only thing I wish I had a little more room on is in the toe box. I perhaps should have gone a half size up, because I am already missing the better barefoot toe spread you get in the Merrell's.  Everything else though is better, particularly the perfect amount of cushion that allows for a more comfortable feel on the pavement.

My Merrell Dash Gloves- today

I am still using the Merrell's for walking and lifting because I love the barefoot feel- but I was starting to get painful red soreness on the balls of my feet after running because they weren't giving me even minimal support anymore while running.  You can see why when you see the soles above ;)

So I've obviously been really enjoying running in the new shoes.  Well today, I brought another one of my loves back into the picture- I went to spin!!!  I haven't been since my tennis elbow surgery because of the potential arm strain.  I'm so glad I went, because it was AWESOME!  I'm also glad I waited because I was able to keep up with the class and totally kill it!  The most important part though, no pain! Of course getting a killer workout and sweating a lot was good, too. ;)

Soo....question for today is spurred on by an email I got this morning from Zensah encouraging me to try these: Zensah Ultra Compression Sleeves.  They are basically a tighter compression than the typical Zensah Compression Sleeves that I basically live in while traveling, after a hard workout, and sometimes during a workout.  Most serious athletes swear by them... but I once had a personal trainer tell me they were a waste of money, so everyone has their own opinion on them.  I can tell a difference in my recovery and comfort- especially during travel or after a long run or brutal workout.  Below is a little diagram from Zensah that helped me initially get into compression sleeves.  If you are interested in learning more, check out their blog.

Do you use compression of any kind before/during/after a workout? What do you use?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Race tomorrow....

Apparently tomorrow is a really popular race day- I know of several bloggers that are running half marathons tomorrow.  Good luck to Linda and Jen!

Well, tomorrow- after a week of work exhaustion in Portland- I will be joining them in racing.  However my race will be a 5k.  My initial thoughts are around it "just" being a 5k, but the reality is that every run, every race is important.  Tomorrow I will be lacing up my new shoes, pinning on my bib for the Delaware Ovarian Cancer Foundation 5k.  This is a race that has a lot of personal meaning for me because my mom is an ovarian cancer survivor.  We do it every year as a family.

I am overdue to give a recap of what's going on with me lately- particularly my dabble into heart rate monitor specific running training.....

But I wanted to throw out some goals for tomorrow:
Duh goal: Finish at 37:12 which would be a 12 min/mile
Hope Goal:  Finish under 35: 37 which was my last time on this race
Awesome Goal: Finish under 35 minutes

I know, you are probably thinking why am I not giving myself some harder goals? Well...lots of reasons, all centered around my continual transition from high support shoes to barefoot and maintaining proper form above all other priorities.

So, we'll see what happens's going to be fun, I'm sure!